BEN STOKES will return to the Durham fold tomorrow morning as his county side look to get their County Championship season back on track as they take on Worcestershire at New Road.

The newly-appointed England Test captain last appeared for Durham in the County Championship last summer, taking 3-55 in 17 overs against Warwickshire.

However, his involvement in the game at Edgbaston was cut short before he could bat because a Covid outbreak in the England squad meant the all-rounder was hastily called up to captain a revamped England side in the ODI series against Pakistan.

Durham will be hoping Stokes can play all four days this time around, with last week’s draw with Sussex, which followed a home thrashing by Nottinghamshire, meaning James Franklin’s side desperately need to secure a first win of the season against Worcestershire.

Stokes is part of a 14-man Durham squad that also features Alex Lees, whose record-breaking partnership with Sean Dickson in the second innings against Sussex ensured the North-Easterners were able to avoid what would have been a second defeat of the season.

Lees and Dickson put on 313 for the first wicket, with the former hitting 105 and the latter amassing 186 before he was dismissed as the game petered out into a draw.

“It turned into a bit of a dull draw against Sussex,” said Lees, who played alongside Stokes in England’s winter tour of the West Indies. “As a unit, we didn’t bat very well in the first innings on what was a pretty good batting wicket.

“When Sean and I went out in the second innings we just batted normally to be honest. Sean played very fluently, and we capitalised on a little bit of loose bowling.

“Whenever you get runs you are happy, although I wasn’t as happy this time around as when I got 182 against Glamorgan with how I actually felt at the crease, but that’s a good sign for me in terms of my mental application. When you don’t always feel right and can still score runs, that’s pleasing.”

With a home Test series against New Zealand on the horizon next month, Stokes’ appointment gives Lees the opportunity to impress his new international skipper at first hand.

The 29-year-old was thrilled to make his Test debut in the Caribbean and would love to be opening the batting again against New Zealand.

However, he accepts his domestic form with Durham will be the determining factor when it comes to dictating his international prospects.

“I need to get re-selected first and foremost (for the New Zealand Test series),” he said. “But to be truthful, I’m just trying to get my head down in the next three first-class games.

“Having had a taste of Test cricket I want to play as much as I can, but my only thoughts are short-term and getting runs for Durham.”