Ben Stokes is set for an imminent return to cricket at the IPL following a period of compassionate leave in New Zealand.
The Mirror Sport columnist has spent the last month in Christchurch with his family and in particular his father Ged who is battling brain cancer.
But the 29-year-old is now ready to return to the game after leaving the England bio-bubble back in August midway through the Pakistan series.
Stokes has left for the UAE today saying: "Goodbyes never get any easier" and will join up with his Rajasthan Royals team-mates next week following seven days of isolation, required due to Covid 19.
And he is targeting the fixture against Delhi Capitals on October 14 to be his first match of the tournament giving him seven games to play before any potential play offs.
The Royals have won two of their first three matches of the campaign so far with England teammates Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler and Tom Curran all taking part.
But the return of their £1.4 million man will be the biggest boost they could hope for with Stokes currently the best all round cricketer on the planet.
Stokes has been readying himself for his return by training at Sydenham Cricket Club, the first cricket club he played at back in New Zealand.
He has been offering tips and advice to young players and posted a clip of himself bowling to one of them in the nets where he said: “Been great being in Christchurch where it all began for me. Thanks to @sydenhamcricket for letting me use their facilities to bowl in.”
He had to spend two weeks in quarantine on arriving in New Zealand from the UK, but since then he has been able to enjoy some important time with his dad who initially suffered a brain bleed in South Africa last December when he was on tour to watch his son play for England.
The news of his brain cancer was confirmed in a wide ranging interview with the family earlier in the summer where both Stokes and his dad opened up on the situation.
Stokes told the New Zealand Herald: “When I left South Africa to get back home, I had a feeling something else would happen.
“I felt like I was constantly preparing myself for another phonecall so when it came it wasn't necessarily a surprise, but it didn't make it any easier.
“I didn't sleep for a week and my head wasn't really in it. Leaving the team was the right choice from a mental point of view.”
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