It was a nightmare start for the Southern Brave who went on to lose to the London Spirit.
England’s premier allrounder Ben Stokes has returned to the nets for the first time since he took an indefinite break from the game to focus on his fitness and wellbeing.
Stokes was absent from the summer’s marquee Test series against India and will also miss the forthcoming Twenty20 World Cup and Ashes series while continuing to concentrate on his mental health.
After also suffering a fracture to his left index finger in the Indian Premier League in April, necessitating surgery, Stokes has also still been struggling with lingering discomfort in the area when aborting a tentative comeback in July.
He had a second operation on October 4 to remove two screws and scar tissue and is said to be in better spirits, posting a picture of himself on Instagram on Monday gripping a bat properly for the first time in six months.
He went a step further by taking part in what looked like a gentle net session on Thursday, uploading three Instagram videos where he was receiving some throwdowns from England physiotherapist Craig De Weymarn.
Stokes said: “Great to be back hitting balls.”
Stokes’ update is likely to fuel speculation he could still feature in the Ashes after all, having been considered unavailable when the 17-man squad to tour Australia was named last week.
England have stressed repeatedly they will not pressure Stokes into a return, with head coach Chris Silverwood and captain Joe Root taking a hands-off approach, and the England and Wales Cricket Board’s performance director Mo Bobat echoed those sentiments on Thursday.
“It’s hugely positive and hugely exciting,” said Bobat.
“Certainly it looks like the extra medical stuff that has happened and the removal of scar tissue and everything else he had done has freed up his finger and it’s given him that feeling of confidence again back into his fingers.
“Ultimately given what he’s experienced and where he’s been, it’s important that he and we move at the right pace for him. There’s certainly no pressure or expectation from us.
“It’s a case of us supporting Ben physically and however else we need to support but support him so that he can continue to progress at the rate that he would like to and he feels comfortable.”