Stuart Broad has given a light-hearted warning to Ben Stokes, who continued his return to bowling fitness with eight wickets in Durham’s innings victory over Somerset in the latest round of County Championship fixtures.

A chronic knee complaint has reduced Stokes to being effectively a specialist batter over the past 12 months, with the England Test captain undergoing surgery after the 2023 World Cup. In England’s final Test in India, he bowled for the first time since the Lord’s Ashes Test in June last year, taking the wicket of Rohit Sharma with his first delivery.

After opting out of IPL 2024 in order to ready himself for a return to all-rounder status, Stokes has formed a key part of the Durham attack in recent weeks. He claimed a five-wicket haul in his side’s narrow defeat to Lancashire, before four wickets in each innings helped skittle Somerset for 171 and 88, Durham winning by an innings despite only making 265.

In the second innings, Stokes came into the attack with Somerset 29-2 and bowled 10 overs unchanged to see his side to victory.

Broad, who retired from Test cricket at the end of the 2023 Ashes, credited Stokes as having the “heart of a lion”, but encouraged him to be careful with his workload.

“Hi Ben,” he posted on X. “Love you & you have a heart of a lion. Please stop bowling 10 overs spells with a dodgy knee…”

Stokes’ response to Broad was short and to the point. “F**k off Stuart what dodgy knee” he posted, followed by a ‘wink’ emoji.

England’s next Test engagement will come in July against West Indies, with Stokes not due to take part in the T20 World Cup in the interim.