England's Test captain Ben Stokes in all likelihood will undergo knee surgery after the conclusion of ODI World Cup, rendering him a doubtful starter for the important five-match away series against India next year.
Once a premier all-rounder Stokes has found it hard to bowl this summer due to chronic tendonitis in his knee. He has mostly played as a specialist batter in the last three Ashes Tests and will continue to do so in the ODI series against New Zealand followed by the World Cup in India next month.
Stokes said he plans to sort out his long pending surgery post the World Cup but refused to divulge the details.
"I know what's going to happen, I just don't think now is right time to say what I'm doing," Stokes told reporters on Thursday ahead of the first ODI against New Zealand.
‘This winter is all about playing this World Cup’
"I've been having some good conversations with some specialists. There is a plan in place. It's nice knowing after the World Cup we've got something, a really good plan we can do and we can stick to."
"I want to be playing next summer as a genuine all-rounder. This winter is all about playing this World Cup, then getting this knee sorted," he added.
If the England Test captain undergoes a surgery post the World Cup he could be in a race against time to get fit the five-Test series in India, starting January 25.
Any player recuperating from knee surgery could take at least 8-12 weeks depending on the nature of the operation and time taken for extensive rehabilitation. With a million pound plus IPL contract in his kitty, the ideal time of return could well be the next year's IPL if one logically calculates the time he could take to start playing top flight cricket once again.
Stokes returns to England's ODI set up after reversing his decision to retire from the format to play in the World Cup in India, starting October 5 with the summit clash slated for November 19.
Comfortable with players turning down central contracts
With T20 leagues mushrooming all across the world, players are increasingly opting out of their central contracts to play franchise cricket.
However, Stokes is comfortable with the players' decisions to opt for lucrative leagues.
"We've got to understand, and I've got to understand as a captain, that there might be some decisions players make and I'm very comfortable and aware that something like that might happen," Stokes said.
"But it's up to the individual and I think having a good and clear understanding that the landscape of cricket is changing in front of our eyes very quickly, makes things like this a bit more easy to understand, if players were to choose to do something like that," he concluded.