England allrounder Ben Stokes is finally headed to the IPL from New Zealand, where he has spent the past month-and-a-half with his family. ESPNcricinfo understands Stokes will land in Dubai, where the Royals are based, early on Sunday.
As per the IPL’s Covid-19 protocol Stokes will undergo the mandatory six-day quarantine, including clearing three tests, before he can link up with the Royals and be available for selection.
On Saturday morning Stokes posted a picture with his parents on Instagram, along with a caption titled ‘goodbyes never get easier’.
In August, Stokes flew to Christchurch after the first Test against Pakistan. He was granted indefinite compassionate leave by the ECB to be with his father, who had been diagnosed with brain cancer. At the time, Stokes had said his “mind wasn’t in it” after learning of his father’s illness. He spent two weeks in quarantine in New Zealand before visiting his family.
Over the past few weeks, Stokes has gradually returned to training with his former club – Sydenham Cricket Club, where he started off playing cricket as a teenager. Apart from training, Stokes was also mentoring the club team ahead of the new season.
“He’s only been around for a week or so, and rubbed shoulders with three or four players,” coach Matthew Bell told New Zealand Herald. “I suppose just that one-on-one time has proved special to pick his brains, the batters that did play against him understand how he’s trying to set them up and how they can come up with a good game plan. Also the way he’s produced some pretty phenomenal innings as a batter.”
On his part, Stokes thanked the club for facilitating some training sessions. “Been great being in Christchurch where it all began,” Stokes posted on Instagram. “Thanks to Sydenham Cricket Club for helping me use their facilities to bowl in.”