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- Cricketer (born 1991)
England's Ben Stokes feared it "might be the end" after he almost choked on a tablet while alone in his hotel room ahead of the Ashes.
The all-rounder, writing in a column for the Daily Mirror, said the tablet had gone down the wrong way and got stuck in his windpipe.
"Until it actually came out, I thought this might be the end," he added. "I was on my own in my room and I couldn't breathe as it became lodged and started to dissolve. It felt like my mouth was on fire.
"Without going into too much detail I have never seen as much saliva as I did on Sunday morning, it was a genuinely frightening experience."
England are hopeful that Stokes will be fit for the opening Ashes Test in Brisbane on Wednesday week – despite suffering a fitness scare in training on Sunday.
Stokes has not played a Test since March, after suffering a broken finger and taking a break to focus on his mental well-being, but England are happy with how he has begun the Ashes tour.
While Stokes suffered a blow to the arm at training on Sunday – and was subsequently pictured doubled up in pain and lying on the ground – he was able to continue training after seeing the team physio and doctor.
“Ben seems to be going well and it’s just great having him around,” Ashley Giles, England’s director of cricket, said, hailing how captain Joe Root would benefit from the 30 year old’s return.
“I know Joe will be happy having him back in the squad. We’ve still got to be steady with him, he hasn’t played a lot of cricket lately and going back to that prep period it’s not ideal for anyone, but particularly the guys who haven’t had a lot of cricket under their belt. So, we’ll just keep building him up and see where we are at the end of this four-day game.”
Giles admitted that it was not a certainty that Stokes would be fit for the opening Test, but remained positive. “I’m hopeful and I would always like to be confident. We’ve just got to treat Ben carefully as we would with anyone else who has been in that position of not having a lot of cricket under their belts. He will be a difficult man to hold back if he is ready to go.”
Giles also added that he was concerned that, after the first cases of the new Omicron Covid variant was detected in Australia, quarantine rules could further complicate the Ashes tour.
“It’s very early days,” Giles said. “We’re obviously hoping it won’t affect anything. There are going to be changes to those border controls in terms of our families being able to travel etc, and we clearly hope that’s not going to affect us. But we are in the hands of national and local governments.
“We always knew things could change. I guess we hoped things would change positively as we went through the series but as we’ve been aware over the last two years with variants, things can also change negatively. Can we prepare for everything? It’s not really possible actually because of the big moving parts even around quarantine times and rules around different states. We will do everything we can to make sure the families are accommodated and of course that the players are happy.”
Members of the squad who played in the Twenty20 World Cup – as well as head coach Chris Silverwood – will be released from quarantine tomorrow. They will rejoin the squad just in time for England’s warm-up match against England Lions, which is now unlikely to be a first-class fixture. “They’ve been very well looked after here but it is still a bubble and it’s still quarantine down there for them. I’m certainly looking forward to getting the head coach here,” Giles continued.
“What we’ll try and do is shape the game I suppose. We want the game to be as authentic as possible but to make allowances for those guys who will have been travelling and for the guys going into the Test match as well so we can get the best and most productive practice for them.”
Meanwhile, Western Australia Cricket Association chief executive Christina Matthews has admitted that Perth still has only a “50-50” chance of hosting the fifth Test, due to the state’s strict Covid protocols.
“It’s a matter of whether cricket can meet those demands or not,” Matthews said. “One of the difficulties for cricket is just the high level of technology that’s needed around the broadcast and the number of people that are needed around the broadcast.
“It’s one thing getting the players in (but) it’s another thing getting the people who have to broadcast,” she added.