Ben Stokes withdraws from England Test side to prioritise ‘his mental wellbeing’, with all-rounder also still struggling with left-index finger injury
England have confirmed Ben Stokes will take an ‘indefinite break’ from all forms of cricket, and the all-rounder could now miss the entirety of the India Test series.
The ECB released a statement confirming his omission relates to prioritising ‘his mental wellbeing and to rest his left index finger, which has not fully healed.’
Managing Director of England Men’s Cricket, Ashley Giles, said: ‘Ben has shown tremendous courage to open up about his feelings and wellbeing.
‘Our primary focus has always been and will continue to be the mental health and welfare of all of our people. The demands on our athletes to prepare and play elite sport are relentless in a typical environment, but the ongoing pandemic has acutely compounded this.
‘Spending significant amounts of time away from family, with minimal freedoms, is extremely challenging. The cumulative effect of operating almost continuously in these environments over the last 16 months has had a major impact on everyone’s wellbeing.’
‘Ben will be given as long as he needs, and we look forward to seeing him playing cricket for England in the future.’
Stokes has been replaced in England’s Test squad to face India – with the five-match series beginning next week at Trent Bridge – by Somerset all-rounder Craig Overton.
The 30-year-old suffered the finger injury playing for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League in April, and was consequently ruled out for the Test series defeat by New Zealand and the limited-overs games against Sri Lanka earlier this summer.
Stokes was also set to sit out the ODI series against Pakistan but was recalled to lead a completely fresh, makeshift squad after Eoin Morgan’s men were forced into self-isolation following positive coronavirus tests for three unnamed players and four backroom staff.
Speaking earlier this month to The Mirror, Stokes admitted his finger caused him ‘ridiculous pain’ during the Pakistan series.
‘It was a totally unexpected set of games for me and the truth is I would never have played under normal circumstances due to how much pain I was in with my left index finger,’ he said.
‘The surgery was a success after I had broken it at the IPL, but it was still so painful. Sometimes though you just have to grin and bear it, and captaining England is one of those reasons.
‘The finger has healed structurally, but the pain was just ridiculous for where it should be so that is why I have now had an injection to ease it for the rest of the summer.’