England all-rounder Ben Stokes is likely to miss the opening warm-up ahead of the Test series against South Africa to attend the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year awards next month.
Stokes is the overwhelming favourite with bookmakers to cap a remarkable past few months by collecting the BBC’s main award on Sunday December 15, and he was named on the six-person shortlist on Monday.
He has therefore been given permission to attend the ceremony in Aberdeen and fly out to Benoni the following day, where England’s preparations for the four-Test series in South Africa start on December 17.
However, the PA news agency understands Stokes is unlikely to be involved in the two-day practice match against a Cricket South Africa Invitation XI at Willowmoore Park.
The 29-year-old wrote his name into English cricketing folklore over the summer with titanic performances in the World Cup final and Ashes.
His 84 not out against New Zealand was followed by another star turn with the bat in the nerve-wracking super over in the Lord’s showpiece as England got their hands on a global 50-over trophy for the first time.
Just weeks later and Stokes was back at the coalface against Australia as a scarcely credible 135 not out underpinned England’s highest ever successful Test run-chase to keep the Ashes alive.
Even though Australia went on to retain the urn, Stokes’ innings is widely regarded as one of the finest of all-time.
His twin batting displays have earned him the nod from the BBC alongside world athletics champions Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson, England and Manchester City footballer Raheem Sterling, Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and Wales rugby captain Alun Wyn Jones.
Stokes wrote on Twitter on Tuesday morning: “Overwhelmed by this and buzzing to be nominated. 2019 has been so good. There are so many people to thank for helping me receive this nomination.
“Congrats to all the other nominees. Looking forward to being in Aberdeen on the 15th.”
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