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You can hear Stokes’ smile – Root

England were beaten 4-0 on their previous Ashes tour of Australia with Joe Root as captain

England Test captain Joe Root says he been able to “hear the smile” in Ben Stokes’ voice in recent conversations with the all-rounder.

The 30-year-old was then added to England’s Ashes squad last Monday.

“I’m just absolutely thrilled he’s in a place where he can enjoy the sport again,” said Root.

He added: “I can imagine it’s been very difficult for him being out of the game and just to hear him down the phone, particularly when we’ve spoken recently, you could almost hear his smile back and I think that’s the greatest thing from my perspective.

“We all know what Ben’s capable of and it is a huge boost for us a squad. It’s still managing that expectation because he has been out of the game for a long time with a serious injury.

“He’s a got a lot of work to do to get himself back to that Ben Stokes we all know.”

Stokes will fly to Australia with the rest of England’s Test specialists – and the shadowing Lions party – on Thursday.

They will have to do 14 days quarantine, with three or four days hard-quarantine before being able to train at the Metricon Stadium in Queensland.

The players involved in the on-going Twenty20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates will travel later in November and England play two intra-squad warm-up games before the first Test in Brisbane on 8 December.

Root added Stokes, whose last game was a one-day international against Pakistan on 13 July, felt “a lot of positivity” after his second operation and had been “hitting balls properly again”.

“He is a massive asset in many respects,” said Root.

“First and foremost you talk about his performances on the field, but also the way that he plays his cricket.

“We are going to have periods of play when it’s very challenging and we’ll need people who can stick their hand up and grab the game.

“He is someone who will always do that. He always leads from that front and is a brilliant leader within the changing room and people follow him.

“One of the things we’ll have to manage well is his workloads with ball in hand and that he doesn’t go in light ahead of that first game.”

Ashes schedule

8-12 Dec: 1st Test, Brisbane (00:00 GMT)

16-20 Dec: 2nd Test, Adelaide (d/n) (04:00 GMT)

26-30 Dec: 3rd Test, Melbourne (23:30 GMT, 25-29 Dec)

5-9 Jan: 4th Test, Sydney (23:30 GMT, 4-8 Jan)

14-18 Jan: 5th Test, Perth (02:30 GMT)

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