England’s hierarchy have underlined the high regard in which the Durham’s Ben Stokes is held by sending him to the United States for corrective surgery.
The 20-year-old all-rounder was out for six months in the middle of last season with a badly-dislocated finger.
Shortly after returning to action, with a protective casing, he was called up for England Lions duty then made his England one-day debut against Ireland in Dublin and played in four one-day internationals against India.
After scoring 31 in one of the two Twenty20 games against the West Indies in September he was left out of the one-day party for India because it was felt his finger needed more recovery time.
He was unable to grip the ball well enough to bowl and the latest operation means he will be ruled out of any involvement with national squads this winter.
Durham coach Geoff Cook said: “He had the operation on Monday and he should just about be ready for the start of next season.
“He probably came back a bit too soon, which shows how keen he was to play, but watching him in the field it was obvious he was still struggling a bit.
“The ECB medical people decided there were two options. One was rest and manipulation, which might have meant he could play for England Lions after Christmas. The other, after further expert advice, was the operation and they decided the best man for the job was in the USA.”
Stokes began last season by taking six for 68 in the opening match at the Rose Bowl and hit the first five balls of an over from left-arm spinner Liam Dawson for six on his way to 135 not out.
He suffered his injury in the field on the day he completed an innings of 185 at home to Lancashire – his third century in nine games. Durham beat the eventual champions by an innings and 125 runs.
Meanwhile, Durham have delayed a decision on Mark Davies’ future pending the outcome of a second ankle operation.
The 31-year-old seamer, who played no first team cricket last season and only six games in 2009, still has a year left on his contract.
Cook does not envisage changing the captaincy next season, with Phil Mustard continuing as four-day skipper and Dale Benkenstein retaining the one-day reins.
There was speculation that Paul Collingwood might take over after signing a three-year contract, but his Twenty20 commitments mean he will again miss a chunk of the English season. He will spend part of the winter playing in Australia’s Big Bash tournament and has an Indian Premier League contract for April.
“Paul just wants to play cricket and enjoy it,” said Cook. “The performances of our two captains last season were excellent and Dale is happy to continue with the arrangement.”