Ben Stokes on making England return in Ashes and doing his dad proud

Not long to go now until the Ashes are under way and I cannot wait to play a full part and help the team do something amazing out here.

It has been one of the strangest build-ups to a Test series, but that is the world we are living in right now and both sides have to cope with it as best they can.

I do feel like we have got what we can out of our preparation time, despite the awful weather that has played havoc.

I know I feel ready to go and play my part.

We have had a bit of time in the middle to bat, bowl and field and to get our bodies ready.

But, of course, nothing can truly replicate the feeling of an Ashes match, the intensity that comes with it – and I’m looking ­forward to feeling all that again.

Walking out to play in an England shirt once more after the break I’ve had will be a ­special moment, as it always is, and playing in the Ashes is all the motivation you need.

I’ll be fully focused on my job and doing what I can whenever Joe Root asks me to get ­involved.

But it is also strange how things work out.

Call it fate or whatever you like, but there will also be a bit of my mind thinking about my dad Ged and the fact that it will be exactly one year to the day since he passed away.

He and my mum have always been my biggest supporters and I know that he would have been hugely proud to see me back out there representing England, ready to take on the Aussies.

It is obviously not a great ­anniversary to be reminded of.

But I think it is a positive ­little thing that I’m getting back out there and will have my dad in my thoughts.

It is amazing how these things work out sometimes.

Once I’m out there it will all be about getting the job done and I have to trust that I’ve got myself into the best possible shape physically and mentally as I can.

As long as I can trust in the work I’ve done, such as ­batting in the warm-up match then the game will look after itself and I can have full ­confidence in my skills.

Talking of confidence, I still don’t know whether I’ll be able to field at second slip just yet.

I am leaving that decision to the very last moment and it will depend on how I feel when the time comes.

The Aussies have named their side early, and it is good to see another all-rounder in the contest with Cameron Green playing his first Ashes Test.

We don’t focus too much on the opposition – and put our faith in what we can do as a team, but from one all-rounder to another it is good to see a young player making his way in international cricket.

You always look out for the players who do the same things as you, so it will be interesting to see how he goes in the series.

The main interest, though, is how our players perform.

Whoever we go with into the first Test, I know we are going to have more than enough to give the Aussies a proper run for their money. I can’t wait.

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