England-New Zealand Series
Stokes determined to shrug off 'frustrating' knee issue for Ashes
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England captain Ben Stokes said Tuesday he is determined to be fit and firing against Australia in the home Ashes after struggling with his knee during the second-Test defeat to New Zealand.
The hosts beat England by just one run to draw the two-Test series in the most dramatic fashion at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.
It ended England's run of six consecutive Test wins.
Stokes hobbled at times during the second Test but declined afterwards to say what the problem was and which knee was affected.
"I have a four-month period now to get it better before the Ashes because I want to be turning up in Birmingham ready to fulfil my role properly," he said.
The Ashes start on June 16 at Edgbaston.
"I'm not going to lie," the 31-year-old star all-rounder told reporters in Wellington.
"It's incredibly frustrating to know something is holding me back.
"I have been working hard with the physios and medics here."
Despite his injury, Stokes insisted he will play for Rajasthan Royals in the upcoming Indian Premier League.
Stokes made 33 with the bat in England's second innings and shared in a partnership of 121 runs with former captain Joe Root.
But he bowled just two overs in the second Test.
"I bowled a bit and it didn't feel good, but I have confidence in my seamers knowing that at their best they are a nightmare for any opposition," he said.
Stokes defended his decision to enforce the follow-on after New Zealand fought back to become only the fourth team in history to win a Test after following on.
"People might not have thought enforcing the follow-on was the right call, but you can't captain an international team with hindsight," he said.
"(Given) the way we ran through New Zealand's top order in the three previous innings, I thought it was the right decision," he said.
England won the first Test by 267 runs.