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Ashes 2021/22

‘I couldn’t breathe’ – Stokes reveals frightening tablet choking incident in Ashes hotel room

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

England all-rounder Ben Stokes, currently in Australia for the Ashes, has revealed that he thought “it might be the end” following a horrifying incident in his hotel room when a tablet got lodged in his windpipe.

The 30-year-old, who took an indefinite break from the sport to focus on his mental health and to recuperate from a finger injury, is all geared up to play in the Ashes that begins from December 8 at Gabba. However, the Durham player revealed that he was unsure whether he “would make it” after choking on a tablet.

Writing in his column for  The Daily Mirror, Stokes narrated the frightening experience when he “couldn’t breathe”.

“It has been a bit of a journey to get here, but it is great to be in Australia preparing for the first Ashes Test next week… although I seriously wondered whether I would make it.”

“Not because of the injury to my finger, which is coming along really well, and nor was it because of my mental well-being, which is also in a good space.”

“It was actually down to a simple tablet that went down the wrong way, and got stuck in my windpipe causing me to choke horribly before the glands in my face went into overdrive to flush it out.”

Stokes does not reveal when the incident occurred, but it appears it took place during the current Australia tour.

“Until it actually came out, I thought this might be the end. We’ve all had those moments when something gets stuck in the throat, and usually someone can help you out. But I was on my own in my room and I couldn’t breathe as it became lodged and started to dissolve. It felt like my mouth was on fire. Without going into too much detail I have never seen as much saliva as I did on Sunday morning, it was a genuinely frightening experience.”

Though the player was helped by the team doctor straight away, there was more in store for Stokes as he was at the centre of ‘another scary moment’ later in the day.

“After all the drama of the morning, I was happy to get a bit of training in later on, but then came another scary moment as I got hit on the forearm by a ball from our batting coach Jonathan Trott. I was in agony, and I couldn’t lift it thereafter. I thought it was broken.”

“Thankfully the pain and reaction settled down once I was back in the dressing room and the physios could be sure it wasn’t actually a break. It was only after I got back to my hotel room that I took stock of what a day I’d had. The adrenaline had worn off and I was exhausted. Happy that I’m here to tell the tale, but hoping that my pre-Test dramas are now over.”

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