England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who has been out of action since April due to a broken thumb, marked his return to cricket, striking an 18-ball 29 and taking one wicket, as his county side Durham defeated Birmingham Bears by 22 runs in the T20 Vitality Blast.
The 30-year-old had to pull out of the Indian Premier League (IPL) before its suspension after a fracture to his left index finger. He also underwent surgery for it. This was Stokes’ first Vitality Blast game in three years.
Though he has failed to make the cut for the upcoming T20I series against Sri Lanka, Stokes’ return to action sets him up for the one-day international series against Pakistan which begins in Cardiff on July 8.
Apart from his exploits with the bat and ball, Stokes also looked sharp in the outfield, taking two stunning catches. Chasing a total of 186, the Birmingham Bears were limited to 163-8.
Durham skipper Cameron Bancroft, who was adjudged Man of the Match for his 53-ball 76, said he was delighted to see Ben Stokes back in action. Speaking after the match, the Australian batsman said:
“It was awesome to have him out there. He was awesome. He brings great energy to the team and he loves putting on the Durham shirt. No matter what team he is playing for, he is passionate and committed to playing each game. Today was no different and the boys really enjoyed it. Hopefully, he can stick around for a little bit longer,” he said.