England all-rounder Ben Stokes has declared himself "fit and hungry for a big series" ahead of the first Ashes Test against Australia.

Joe Root's side get their campaign started on December 8 in Brisbane and will be boosted by the return of their star all-rounder Stokes.

The 30-year-old has not played competitively since July and was initially omitted from England's squad as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break to protect his mental wellbeing.

But Stokes was subsequently added to the travelling party in October as he assured he was ready to make a comeback for the tour and first Test at The Gabba.

Stokes, who averages 38.37 against Australia, offered England a scare when he took a blow to the forearm in a net session last week before Root confirmed the Durham man was fit. 

With just a week to go before the two old foes do battle once more, Stokes is relishing the opportunity to take on Justin Langer's side.

 

"Don't call it a comeback," Stokes posted on Instagram alongside a video of him training with bat and ball on Wednesday.

"Spent some time testing out the finger with [Adidas] last month.

"Two months ago, I couldn't hold a bat. With one week to go till the first Test, I'm fit and hungry for a big series Down Under!"

Rory Burns says Ben Stokes' return to the England Test squad in time for the Ashes tour of Australia has provided "a massive boost".

Stokes was initially omitted from the squad for the away series as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break from cricket to protect his mental wellbeing.

But the all-rounder gave Joe Root's side a huge lift last week by declaring he was ready to make his comeback, and he flew out to Australia on Thursday.

He will be available, barring any fitness issues, for the first Test at The Gabba on December 8.

 

Stokes was a star of the previous Ashes series in 2019, albeit his heroics in a famous Headingley Test did not prove enough for England to reclaim the urn.

And Burns explained the confidence boost Stokes' timely return has provided.

"It's obviously a massive boost, you know. To get Stokesy back in the side and back in the squad and back around things is obviously a massive boost for us," the opener told reporters.

"We all know what a good player he is. I don't really have to tell you about that. To get a bloke of his calibre and background back in our group is obviously a massive lift for us."

Stokes' return may have come as a surprise to some, but not Burns, who said: "I wasn't actually that surprised. I kind of felt like something was bubbling away.

"So, it was nice when I saw it announced. Because it is exciting and we want to get out there and have the best side possible, and obviously Ben adds to that in a massive way."

Burns impressed in the 2019 series, scoring 133 in the first innings of his Ashes debut before going on to record two more half-centuries (53 and 81).

"I think, from a personal standpoint, I played quite nicely in my only Ashes series to date," Burns continued.

"That was in my home conditions and those sort of things; we are probably going to get some different conditions out here in Australia. There is confidence there but also, at the same time, it's just taking what's in front of you every step of the way."

Ben Stokes is relishing the prospect of making his return in "the pinnacle of Test cricket" when England do battle with Australia in the Ashes.

Stokes was initially omitted from the squad for the series Down Under as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break to protect his mental wellbeing.

The all-rounder then gave Joe Root's side a huge lift last week by declaring he was ready to make his comeback.

Stokes will fly out to Australia with the Test and Lions squad on Thursday and is raring to go ahead of the first Test at the Gabba on December 8.

"I just took it day by day, step by step. I had fantastic support around me to help me through that, and I'm just excited to get out there," Stokes told Sky Sports.

"I had a lot of scar tissue build-up around my joint and my tendons so he [the surgeon] removed all that, which thankfully allowed me to actually get some movement and took away the frustration in terms of pain as well.

"I'm glad to come out the other side of that. I think it's important for anyone [to take a step back]. Whether it be a job or their day-to-day life, it's important for everyone."

 

Stokes believes England have a good chance of regaining the urn, with the onus not only on proven world-class players such as himself to perform.

"One player doesn't make a team, and although I know I'm a senior member of that team over the last few years, every member of that team is just as important as each other," he added.

"We have got a huge amount of experience in our squad, although we've got some young guys who are still learning their way in Test cricket.

"We've got the likes of Jimmy [Anderson], Broady [Stuart Broad] who have obviously been there, done that. Rooty - fantastic leader and England's greatest-ever batter, so we've got everything to come back at Australia with what they've got.

"You are playing at the highest level possible and the Ashes - for an Englishman in Australia, that is the pinnacle of Test cricket. It is the only series that is almost like a World Cup, because they are such rivals."

Steve Smith believes the return of "dangerous" England all-rounder Ben Stokes makes for a mouthwatering Ashes series.

Stokes has not played since July, having taken a break to protect his mental wellbeing while he also recovered from a broken finger.

The England vice-captain underwent a second operation on his finger but recently posted footage of himself batting and bowling in the nets.

Stokes was initially omitted from the squad for the tour of Australia, but the England and Wales Cricket Board on Monday announced that he has been added to the squad.

Australia batsman Smith has welcomed the news that Stokes will be involved, with the Ashes getting under way at The Gabba on December 8.

"I think any team's more dangerous when you've got someone like Ben Stokes playing," Smith said.

"It certainly adds a lot to their depth, but like I said we're excited and I'm glad personally that he's able to be back playing some cricket. It makes for a really good series."

 

Smith has been troubled by an elbow injury, but the former Australia captain does not expect it to be an issue when Tim Paine's side attempt to retain the urn.

Quoted in the Australian press on Tuesday, Smith said: "I've tried to bat every second day, or not bat three days in a row, just to take a bit of load off. On the days I'm batting, I'm batting for as long as I want to, which is nice.

"I'm still taking it easy at the moment. I'll build up again as we get closer to playing some longer format stuff. It is in a good place, it feels really good. I'm continuing with my strength work and my rehab stuff – I feel like I'm going well and progressing along nicely, so I've got no real concerns [for the Ashes]."

Ben Stokes has been added to the England squad for the Ashes tour of Australia.

The Durham all-rounder was omitted from the original selection as he continued his recovery from a second operation on a broken finger.

Stokes, who sustained the injury while playing in the Indian Premier League in April, announced in July he was taking a break from cricket to protect his mental wellbeing and allow his finger to recover.

Having been given the all-clear by the medical team of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the 30-year-old will depart for Australia with the Test and Lions squad on November 4.

"I had a break to prioritise my mental wellbeing and I got my finger sorted," Stokes said.

"I am looking forward to seeing my mates and being on the field with them. I'm ready for Australia."

 

Ashley Giles, managing director of England Men's Cricket, said: "Following a very successful operation on his finger and several conversations over the last few weeks between Ben and I, our medical staff and his management team, Ben called me to say he was ready to return to cricket and was excited about the prospect of playing a significant role in the Ashes series.

"Time and time again, Ben has demonstrated how important he is to the England team and having him available for the Ashes series is excellent news for all of us and, in particular, [coach] Chris [Silverwood], Joe [Root] and the rest of the players.

"Having not played for some time, we will move forward cautiously over the next few weeks to ensure he is fully prepared across all facets of his game.

"Ahead of a very busy period of cricket, we continue to remain mindful of the stresses on all our personnel, and our primary focus continues to be the wellbeing of all of our players and support staff."

The Ashes begins at The Gabba on December 8 and concludes a month later at Optus Stadium in Perth.

England are looking to regain the urn after it was retained by Australia following a 2-2 series draw in 2019.

Australia spinner Nathan Lyon is expecting Ben Stokes to earn a late Ashes call-up and says he is eager to come up against England's star all-rounder.

Stokes missed England's home contests against India earlier in 2021 after announcing in July he was taking time off for his mental wellbeing and to allow a broken index finger to recover.

A second operation on that injury earlier this month preceded Stokes being left out of an initial 17-man squad for the five-Test Ashes series, which begins on December 8 in Brisbane, though he has since posted footage of him batting and bowling 

While a continued omission for Stokes, who is also not with England for the T20 World Cup, would obviously be a boost for Australia, Lyon remains hopeful he will go head-to-head with one of the best in the game.

"I'm expecting him to come. I'm expecting Stokes to be out here and, to be honest, I hope he is," Lyon told reporters at the Hurtsville Oval in Sydney, where the NSW Blues were playing an intra-squad practice match.

"You want to play against the best players in the world and Stokesy is the best all-rounder in the world. 

"He's an X-factor and he's a game-changer, and you want to play against these players, so I'm expecting Stokes to be here."

 

Stokes has 4631 runs in 71 Tests and a batting average of 37.04. With the ball, he has 163 wickets at an average of 31.38.

His absence would be a blow to an England batting line-up many feel is lacking in quality depth.

That is not an opinion shared by Lyon, though, who says he has a few surprises up his sleeve for Australia's greatest cricketing enemy.

"I've always got a couple of mystery balls," he said. "That's been the beauty about this pre-season, it's been my first ever proper pre-season. 

"I've been able to do a lot of fitness work and a lot of skills work. I've already started looking at a couple of England's batters, so that's exciting.

"They've got some very talented batters early in their Test careers. Look at Ollie Pope's last red-ball game. He got a pretty big double-hundred. 

"It's going to be a different challenge for these guys, coming out to Australia and we want that."

Ben Stokes was not included in the England squad for the Ashes tour of Australia.

The all-rounder was expected to be left out of the 17-man group after having a second operation on his broken index finger.

Stokes, who sustained the injury while playing in the Indian Premier League in April, announced in July he was taking a break from cricket to protect his mental wellbeing and allow his finger to recover.

Sam Curran, who was diagnosed with a stress fracture to his lower back in the past week, was also omitted from head coach Chris Silverwood's squad for the five-match series in Australia, which starts on December 8 in Brisbane.

Fast bowlers Jofra Archer and Olly Stone remain absent as they recover from injuries, but Stuart Broad is selected after suffering a torn calf muscle during England's home Test series with India in July.

Joe Root will be captain and Jos Buttler vice-captain of a side consisting entirely of players previously capped at Test level.

 

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) only confirmed on Friday that the tour would be going ahead amid possible concerns around coronavirus restrictions in Australia.

While "several critical conditions" must still be met for the Ashes to proceed, the ECB said "positive discussions" were ongoing and that "it is hoped matters will be resolved in due course".

Silverwood said he was "delighted that all of our available players have committed to the tour" despite the likes of Root and Buttler previously expressing doubts.

"A tour of Australia is the pinnacle as an England Test cricketer," he said.

"This is why we play and coach to be involved in iconic series like this. More than half of our squad haven't featured in an Ashes tour before, which means we will be fresh and looking to embrace the cricket and the excitement of touring one of the best places in the world.

"I believe we have selected a well-balanced squad with options in all areas and a blend of youth and experience. There is real competition for places and a genuine desire to work hard and compete, aiming to create some history."

England are looking to regain the urn after it was retained by Australia following a 2-2 series draw in 2019.

England squad for the Ashes:

Joe Root (captain), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper), Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes is highly unlikely to feature in The Ashes squad in December after having a second operation on his broken left index finger.

Stokes sustained the injury while playing in the Indian Premier League in April but returned to action with Durham in June.

The 30-year-old also played through the pain barrier in July to captain a second-string ODI side to a series whitewash over visiting Pakistan after an initial coronavirus outbreak ruled out the majority of the regular squad.

However, before the India Test series later that month, Stokes announced he would take a break from cricket to protect his mental wellbeing and to allow his finger to fully recover.

On Thursday, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) provided another update on the all-rounder's injury progress.

"England all-rounder Ben Stokes has undergone a second operation on Monday 4th October to address ongoing issues with the finger that he injured in the IPL in April," the statement said.

"Stokes had two screws and scar tissue removed from the index finger of his left hand. 

"He will now undergo an intensive period of rehabilitation for the next four weeks under the supervision of the ECB's medical team."

 

Stokes is already set to miss the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, which starts on October 17, but the operation puts further doubt on his return in time for The Ashes.

His presence with the touring party in Australia – who will host England if agreements on coronavirus-related bubble issues can be agreed – was already doubtful but the operation makes the likelihood of an appearance even slimmer.

The all-rounder will be sorely missed by Chris Silverwood's tourists if so, with Stokes averaging 38.37 against Australia, whom he scored 135 not out against in one of cricket's most famous knocks at Headingley in 2019.

England have recalled Tymal Mills after a four-year absence from international cricket for their T20 World Cup squad, while Ben Stokes remains on an indefinite break from cricket.

Stokes had announced his break before the Test series against India to prioritise his mental wellbeing and did not make himself available for selection for England's preliminary 15-man T20 squad.

In the absence of the injured Jofra Archer, Mills features for the first time since February 2017 after impressing in white-ball cricket this term, winning the inaugural Hundred competition with Trent Rockets and guiding Sussex to the T20 Blast Finals Day.

On announcing England's squad, head coach Chris Silverwood said: "We are excited about the prospect of challenging to win the ICC T20 World Cup. 

"I believe we have selected a squad that covers all bases and has the depth to be successful in what is expected to be a very competitive tournament featuring the best players in the world.

"Tymal Mills deserves his inclusion and has demonstrated over the past couple of years, but particularly this summer that he has all skills to succeed at this level. 

"His exceptional pace is a standout, and the way he has spearheaded Sussex and Southern Brave's respective attacks in the short-form game has shown that he relishes the pressures of the big stage.

"He will add variety to our bowling unit, and we can't wait to see him play in a major international tournament."

David Willey also makes the list after the disappointment of missing out on the triumphant 50-over World Cup squad in 2019, with Tom Curran demoted to the reserves.

There is no room for leg-spinner Matt Parkinson but Lancashire team-mate Liam Livingstone is included and could have a big role to play as a third spinner alongside Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.

Eoin Morgan's men, who fell short in the final against West Indies at the 2016 T20 World Cup, have until October 10 to finalise their squad.

England finish off their preparations with a two-match T20I series against Pakistan, on 14 and 15 October, before their first group-stage fixture against West Indies on October 23.

 

England squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Tymal Mills, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Reserves: Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, James Vince.

England will make a late call on whether to include Ben Stokes in their T20 World Cup squad but he will not be put under pressure to play.

All-rounder Stokes took an "indefinite break from all cricket" in July for his mental wellbeing and to also allow an injured index finger to fully heal.

Stokes last played for England in a three-match one-day series against Pakistan in July.

His team-mates, including Test captain Joe Root and limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan, spoke out to support Stokes' decision to take a break. 

The 30-year-old has been a key performer for England in all formats of the game and inspired them to the 50-over World Cup in 2019.

England head coach Chris Silverwood, who has not yet talked to Stokes, will name his squad for the T20 World Cup on Thursday.

 

"We are going to leave that one late, to give it our best chance," Silverwood said.

"I want to give him as much space as possible but there are people talking to him outside of me and it is something we will be revisiting shortly.

"I haven't spoken to him as yet. But I will not be putting pressure on him, will not be rushing him and whatever support he needs he will get.

"First and foremost my only concern is for him and make sure he's okay. That's the starting point I will be at and the rest of the questions will come.

"I need to make sure he is okay and that is my primary concern."

England's first game of the T20 World Cup, staged in United Arab Emirates and Oman, is against West Indies on October 23.

England's Ben Stokes and his mother Deborah have received an apology and been paid damages by The Sun newspaper for the reporting of a family tragedy.

The newspaper published an article in 2019 depicting alleged events that took place three years before Stokes was born, which he described at the time via Twitter as "heartless" and "totally out of order".

Stokes claimed the story contained "serious inaccuracies" and had "grave and lifelong consequences" for his mother, while the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) stated it was "disgusted and appalled" by the reporting.

On Sunday, The Sun published a short statement on its website, apologising to Stokes and his mother.

"On September 17 2019 we published a story titled, 'Tragedy that Haunts Stokes' Family' which described a tragic incident that had occurred to Deborah Stokes, the mother of Ben Stokes, in New Zealand in 1988," the statement read.

"The article caused great distress to the Stokes family, and especially to Deborah Stokes.

"We should not have published the article. We apologise to Deborah and Ben Stokes. We have agreed to pay them damages and their legal costs."

Deborah Stokes said, as per The Guardian: "The decision to publish this article was a decision to expose, and to profit from exposing, intensely private and painful matters within our family. The suffering caused to our family by the publication of this article is something we cannot forgive.

"Ben and I can take no pleasure in concluding this settlement with the Sun. We can only hope that our actions in holding the paper to account will leave a lasting mark, and one that will contribute to prevent other families from having to suffer the same pain as was inflicted on our family by this article."

The Sun's story came shortly after Stokes' Ashes heroics at Headingley, with the New Zealand-born all-rounder having also helped England win their maiden ODI World Cup in July of that year.

Chris Silverwood says "prized asset" Mark Wood could miss the third Test against India as England ponder making changes to their batting line-up at Headingley.

Wood suffered a shoulder injury attempting to prevent a boundary during a dramatic 151-run defeat at Lord's.

The paceman was able to return to the field and bowl but may not be available in Leeds next week when England attempt to hit back from a shattering loss at the Home of Cricket.

Head coach Silverwood said of Wood's fitness: "The medics are working on him. We'll find out more in the next couple of days.

"We will make a decision, along with him and our medics, closer to the time. But if he's not right, he's not right. I certainly won't push him into playing if he tells me he's not right. I will look after him."

England are already without Jofra Archer, Olly Stone and Stuart Broad due to injury and Silverwood says they cannot afford to take any chances with Wood.

"What he did for the team, and the effort to bowl at 90mph with a sore shoulder, it just shows how much he cares about the team and how much he cares about playing for England, and how passionate he is," he said.

"It was a superb effort. I'm very proud of him for what he did there. He'll be trying his best to get ready for Leeds, and I will give him every chance to be fit, but at the same time, it is massively important that we look after Woody.

"He is a prized asset. We have found ourselves in the position, when you lose Archer and Stone, we have got one guy left that can bowl that fast."

England crumbled to 120 all out on Monday to go 1-0 down in the five-match series, with Dom Sibley and Rory Burns falling without scoring and Haseeb Hameed only making nine following a first-innings golden duck.

The prospect of Dawid Malan and James Vince being called up was put to Silverwood on Tuesday and he said other options will be discussed.

"I've got to keep my eyes and ears open, and my mind open to all suggestions, and it's certainly something that we'll be talking about this evening in selection, when we all get together," Silverwood said.

"It's not like I'm not in touch with these guys. I've seen them over the various formats and my relationship with these guys is very good. I'm quite close to them so I wouldn't say you can't do it.

"I don't think there is any ideal process out there. We have to make the best of what we've got. It's difficult to bring people in from, say, the Hundred or the Royal London Cup.

"To throw them into Test cricket, we've seen that the pressure is huge in this series. It's being played with a lot of passion, which is great to see, but it is a difficult transition.

"You've got to do what's best for the team, ultimately, and find the best way of progressing England to a place where big first-innings runs – and second-innings runs – come in on a consistent basis."

Jofra Archer will miss both the T20 World Cup and this year's Ashes as the England bowler has been ruled out for the remainder of 2021.

Archer has been dealing with a troublesome elbow injury and underwent surgery in May, with an "intensive rehabilitation period" planned before he was reassessed.

The pace bowler insisted he would not rush his return but had targeted both the T20 World Cup – which is to be held in the United Arab Emirates and Oman – and the tour of Australia.

Archer will be available for neither, though, despite returning with Sussex last month.

The England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Thursday the player had suffered a recurrence of a stress fracture of his right elbow, confirmed by scans last week.

"In response to these findings, [Archer] has been ruled out for the rest of the year and will miss the current LV= Insurance Test series against India, the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 and the Ashes series in Australia," a statement explained.

"The 26-year-old, who had an operation in May to remove a bone fragment from his elbow, returned to play last month.

"As part of his return-to-bowling programme, he became aware of increasing discomfort in his elbow during matches for Sussex in the Vitality Blast and a 50-over friendly against Oxfordshire.

"The operation is not related to the stress fracture that sidelined the player previously.

"He will now spend time on an extended break from cricket before returning for a medical review in early autumn."

England are already without all-rounder Ben Stokes for their ongoing Test series against India, as he is focusing on his mental wellbeing during an indefinite period away from the sport.

Archer starred alongside Stokes for England at the 2019 Cricket World Cup, taking 20 wickets – tied for the third-most at the tournament – to help the hosts to their first title following a dramatic final.

He was then handed his Test debut against Australia in the Ashes, collecting 22 wickets including a pair of five-fors and career-best figures of 6-45.

England captain Joe Root is "desperate" for friend and team-mate Ben Stokes "to be okay" after it was announced the all-rounder was taking an indefinite break from cricket.

Following in the footsteps of Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles, Stokes has become the latest elite athlete to step away from sport to prioritise his mental wellbeing.

Stokes had been set to face India in a five-Test series but will instead rest, also giving his injured finger time to heal.

On Monday, skipper Root offered his support to the 30-year-old, whose father died last December following a battle with cancer.

"I had a conversation with Ben and that's when I found out, but that call will stay between the two of us," Root said.

"For me, it was hard to see a friend like that. More than anything, I just want him to be okay

"What was said stays between us two and I think, throughout this, it's important that people respect his privacy and give him the best chance to deal with this in his own way.

"I'm just desperate for him to be okay and I'll be there for him as much as I can be in whatever way he wants."

Having suffered a broken left index finger while playing in the Indian Premier League in April, Stokes was back in action for Durham in June and unexpectedly returned to the international arena last month.

The England vice-captain led a short-handed team to an ODI series whitewash of Pakistan after a coronavirus outbreak saw the original squad stood down.

Now, the England and Wales Cricket Board has promised Stokes "as long as he needs".

Root added: ""From my point of view, I just want my friend to be okay.

"I think that anyone who knows Ben knows that he always puts other people in front of himself and first. And I think now is an opportunity for him to put himself first, to take time to look after himself and to get himself to a good place again.

"Hopefully that can be sooner rather than later and I think cricket has to be a secondary thought down the line and he should take as much time as he needs.

"He's got my full support on that and he can be sure he has the ECB's full support on that and the team's."

The India series begins on Wednesday with the first Test at Trent Bridge.

Kumar Sangakkara believes pandemic cricket is taking an increasing toll on cricket's leading starts after Ben Stokes decided to take an indefinite break from the game.

England vice-captain Stokes made an ahead-of-schedule return from a finger injury to lead a reserve squad to a 3-0 ODI series win over earlier this month after a coronavirus outbreak saw the initial party stood down en masse.

It was the latest demonstration of the particular challenges these times bring for elite cricketers, with all-rounder Stokes an all-format player who has spent large chunks of the past year in bio-secure bubbles on home soil and away in Sri Lanka and India.

The T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates precedes a December-January Ashes series in Australia and Stokes, who featured in the inaugural Hundred for the Northern Superchargers has elected to take a step back ahead the forthcoming five-match home Test series against India.

A statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said the 30-year-old would "prioritise his mental wellbeing and rest his left index finger", with managing director of England men's cricket Ashley Giles acknowledging "the ongoing pandemic has acutely compounded" the pressures of top-level cricket.

Speaking to Sky Sports, former Sri Lanka captain Sangakkara suggested such occurrences were likely to become more commonplace the longer sport has to coexist with the global health crisis.

"It all adds up. A lot of time away from home, a lot of time in bubbles, restrictions in terms of freedom of movement, a lot of protocols in place. Then the added pressure of performing at such an intensely high level in the public eye," he said.

"It's very difficult to pinpoint what could be different. Individuals deal with things differently and, over time, you can reach a point where you need a breather and a break.

"He needs support and good people around him and hopefully he's back as soon as possible.

"In the news, we've had a host of athletes who've spoken about mental well-being, the effects of COVID and the pressure around it."

Kevin Pietersen, the former England batsman, also gave the star his best wishes, noting the pain Stokes endured when his father died in December last year after a battle with cancer.

"I hope he's okay. He's a fabulous cricketer, one of the best in the world at the moment," Pietersen told Sky Sports.

“He obviously lost his dad, there are a lot of things that have happened to Ben Stokes in the last couple of years.

"I don't want to comment too much on it because we don't know what the issue is. All I know is I want him to be okay."

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