Ashes: Ben Stokes presence cheers Rory Burns as England land in Australia ahead of series Down Under
Ben Stokes was initially omitted from England's Ashes squad as he focused on his mental wellbeing and fully recovering from a finger injury; Rory Burns welcomes the sight of Stokes being part of the setup; England landed in Australia on Saturday to begin hotel quarantine
Last Updated: 07/11/21 12:54pm
Rory Burns had an inkling Ben Stokes might be on the plane for England's trip to Australia but is nevertheless buoyant that the star all-rounder is on-hand to help their Ashes bid.
Stokes was initially omitted from the party to head Down Under as he focused on his mental wellbeing and fully recovering from a finger injury, which required a second operation last month to remove two screws and scar tissue.
The prospect of Stokes making a comeback this winter reached fever pitch as he filmed himself batting and bowling in the nets and, after being given the all-clear by his consultant and England's medics, he made himself available.
The 30-year-old was duly added to the main squad and landed in Australia on Saturday with the Test specialists and supplementary England Lions group, all of whom have started a 14-day hotel quarantine period on the Gold Coast.
Speaking from his hotel room on Sunday morning, Burns said: "To get Stokesy back in the side, get back in the squad and back around things is obviously a massive boost for us.
"To get a bloke of his calibre back around our group is a real lift for us. I wasn't actually that surprised (he was coming back), I kind of felt like something was bubbling away.
"It was nice when it was announced and it's exciting because we wanted to get out here and get the best start possible and Ben adds to that in a massive way."
England have an exemption to train at Metricon Stadium from Wednesday, albeit under stringent bio-secure protocols, and will then head to Brisbane later this month ahead of the first Test on December 8 at the Gabba.
Several of Australia's Ashes hopefuls, including key fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, are still at the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Burns feels that might benefit England.
Burns said: "It's good for us that we're going to manage to get our feet on deck first and be able to get out there and start practising and training and prepping for the big series ahead.
"There's potentially something in it but we're just trying to focus on ourselves and do our own thing, really."
Burns made 390 runs in the 2019 Ashes, which included his maiden Test hundred in the opener of a series that finished in a 2-2 draw, with Australia retaining the urn, and is well aware of the expectations on him this time.
Alastair Cook greedily compiled 766 runs in England's last triumphant trip to Australia 10 years ago while Chris Broad was similarly prolific in the successful 1986-87 tour with three tons and an average of 69.57 in five Tests.
When asked if he could follow in the footsteps of his fellow openers, Burns, who has had three stints of playing grade cricket in Australia, said: "Yeah, that would be nice, wouldn't it. There are some good names on that list.
"Generally sides that do well, their top order performs for themselves but also tries to get scores together as a team and a group and lets your middle order have best use of conditions there as well.
"From a personal standpoint, I think I played quite nicely in my only Ashes series to date. That was in my home conditions and we're probably going to get some different conditions out here in Australia.
"There is confidence there but also at the same time, it's just taking what's in front of you every step of the way. Get your prep right and (make sure) you're in a good place heading into those games and back yourself."
England Test Squad for Ashes Tour of Australia 2021-22
Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
Hussain: 'Talismanic' Stokes is virtually irreplaceable
Sky Sports' Nasser Hussain said England will benefit enormously from having the "talismanic" Stokes in their side in Australia.
"It's great news," Hussain told Sky Sports News. "Ben Stokes is virtually irreplaceable in any format; he is one of the great all-rounders in cricket.
"It is great news for Ben Stokes physically, with his finger, but more important, mentally. It just shows that having taken a break out of the game he is in a better place mentally.
"Obviously that will have to be looked after in the weeks and months ahead, but it's great news that England have their talismanic cricketer back in the side."
Hussain is expecting Stokes to be named in the line-up at the first time of asking when England take on Australia in the opening Test on December 8.
"It would be like leaving Ian Botham out or something like that," Hussain said of the prospect of not playing Stokes.
"You have to remember what Stokes did at Headingley last time we were lucky to be there. I was lucky to commentate that time."