IPL 2023 | Ben Stokes to return early to prepare for Test summer at home

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England skipper Ben Stokes has confirmed he would not be available for the later stages of the IPL in order to prepare for a crucial Test summer in England. The team is scheduled to host six Tests just after the IPL's end albeit no England player has been asked to withdraw early from the event.

Ben Stokes has become the first among English players to confirm he would miss the latter stages of the Indian Premier League, most probably including the knockout stages if his team reaches there, in order to honor international commitments. The all-rounder was bought by the Chennai Super Kings for a sum of INR 16.25 crores at the auction earlier in the year, making him the third most expensive player in the history of the tournament, despite missing the event last time around due to personal reasons.

The recently released IPL schedule revealed the final is slated to take place on May 28, just four days ahead of England's Test against Ireland. The one-off encounter is supposed to act as a precursor to the Ashes beginning on June 16 in Birmingham

"Yes, I'll play. I'll be making sure that I give myself enough time to get back and play that game," Stokes was quoted saying by ESPN Cricinfo.

Stokes has led the team to 10 wins in 11 games since taking over from Joe Root, marking a remarkable turnaround from a phase where the Three Lions managed just one victory in 17 encounters. The 31-year-old has inculcated a certain sense of freedom in the team's culture, thereby leaving the decision to represent England up to the players themselves.

"I'll probably get round the individuals and ask them what they want to be ready for for the Ashes, because those five games are obviously the big ones of the summer, and you've got to think about what lads want. But what if something was to happen in that game and we lose someone for the Ashes ... It's just one of those where you have to weigh up the options of what the individual person actually wants out of that week, versus do we really need to play that one. Because, obviously, I'm right in saying that series is bigger than that game against Ireland," Stokes explained.

"If we have got a couple of people who are a bit sore, or bowlers who don't feel like they are 100 percent right to go, then I will still be picking my best team because I will be picking the XI who are able to play. So it's the beauty of the squad we've got at the moment - if someone doesn't feel like they're quite up to performing again after a close turnaround, we'll still be able to pick the best team judging by the people we've got," he added.

Stokes and his men are presently in the New Zealand as they prepare to seal the two-match Test series after triumph in the first when they take the field on February 24. 

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