'May live to regret it': Ben Stokes at centre of Aussie Ashes warning

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Pictured here, Ben Stokes celebrates a century against Australia in the 2019 Ashes series.
Ben Stokes has confirmed that he will be part of England's touring squad for the Ashes series in Australia. Pic: Getty

Former England captain Michael Vaughan says controversial comments from Aussie Test captain Tim Paine may have been the catalyst behind Ben Stokes' bombshell Ashes call.

England were given a massive boost on Monday after Stokes confirmed that he would be coming to Australia to take part in the five-Test series.

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Six months after injuring his index finger in the Indian Premier League, England's best cricketer confirmed on Monday he was finally mentally and physically fit enough to return.

The 30-year-old's injury required two surgeries - including one earlier this month - while he also took time out of the game for his own mental wellbeing.

Stokes admitted he was in a "dark place having difficult thoughts " after his finger injury, his feelings exacerbated by "bubble fatigue".

England had been considered rank outsiders for this summer's series, having not won a Test in Australia for 10 years.

But with Stokes in the side, the tourists are now genuine contenders again.

England's participation in the series had been up in the air until recently, with concerns about quarantine restrictions, player welfare and whether families would be able to travel with the team, among the main sticking points.

Paine declared that the Ashes would go ahead whether England captain Joe Root was here or not and questioned whether their rivals had the stomach to tour Australia for a series in which they have been widely written off.

England quick James Anderson was among those who thought the Aussie captain's comments had crossed a line.

“It is dangerous to start talking like that, especially when we already have one player missing because he is looking after his mental health,” Anderson told the UK’s Daily Telegraph.

Tim Paine may have helped Ben Stokes make call 

Former England skipper Vaughan said Paine may end up regretting his tough stance, which he believes could have been a motivating factor behind Stokes' decision to tour.

Michael Vaughan is seen here performing his duties as a cricket pundit on BBC Sport.
Former Test captain Michael Vaughan says the inclusion of Ben Stokes is a massive boost to England's Ashes hopes in Australia. Pic: Getty

"I wonder whether his mind may have been made up by the commentsTim Paine made when there was still doubt over Root and England travelling to Australia at all,” Vaughan wrote in The Telegraph.

“Paine said that the Ashes would go ahead with or without Root, and seemed to question England’s motivations.

“I know some of the England boys were not best pleased with those remarks and it might just be that Paine prodded Ben over the line - he may live to regret it.”

Vaughan believes Stokes is one of the few players that the Aussie side truly "fears" and that his presence will be massive for England.

“Stokes is the engine of this England team, the guy who powers them,” Vaughan wrote. 

“Not only does he contribute massively himself, he lifts the performances of those around him, inspiring, cajoling and driving up standards.

“Crucially, he is also a player that Australia fear. The scars he inflicted on them at Headingley two years ago will not have fully healed and the sight of him walking out at Brisbane - or wherever he manages to play his first Test - will send a few shivers up local spines.

“There are not many players in this England squad who have tasted any kind of meaningful success against Australia in their own back yard - not even Joe Root, one of our true greats, has made a hundred there. But Stokes, who announced his arrival as a Test player with a hundred at Perth in 2013, is one of them and clearly relishes being in that white heat of competition.”

Ben Stokes 'ready' after taking break from cricket

Stokes missed the last tour of Australia for off-field reasons, but was one of their few shining lights in 2013-14 when he scored a fourth-innings century in just his second Test.

In the past three years alone he has averaged 45 with the bat and 28.02 with the ball and is ranked second in the ICC's allrounder rankings despite his long absence.

His unbeaten 135 at Headingley two years ago to help England chase down 362 with one wicket to spare remains one of the great Ashes performances of the 21st century, and no doubt still haunts Australian players.

"I had a break to prioritise my mental wellbeing and I got my finger sorted," Stokes said.

"I am looking forward to seeing my mates and being on the field with them.

"I'm ready for Australia."

Seen here, England's Ben Stokes applauds the fans as he leaves the pitch after England's victory during day four of the 5th Ashes Test in 2019.
England's Ben Stokes looms as one of the biggest threats to Australia's chances of retaining the Ashes on home soil. Pic: Getty

In his Mirror newspaper column Stokes said he was 'buzzing' for the Ashes and added: "I know I can focus again on playing my best cricket Down Under...

"I probably didn't realise just how much of an issue the finger was causing me until I got it sorted the second time around."

Stokes said that he was also struggling with bubble fatigue, adding he was in a "dark place" with difficult thoughts.

He said talking to his wife, England captain Joe Root and professionals had helped him.

"I was always one of those people who wouldn't talk about how they're feeling and just keep it internal and crack on," he said. "I now realise talking is such a powerful thing and it has completely changed me."

with AAP

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