Test series vs India: Stokes withdraws to attend to mental health

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has withdrawn from the Test squad for the forthcoming series against India due to concerns over his mental health and injured finger, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Friday.

The Test series begins on August 4 in Nottingham.

“Stokes has withdrawn from England’s Test squad ahead of the Test series against India starting next week to prioritise his mental wellbeing and to rest his left index finger, which has not fully healed since his return to competitive cricket earlier this month,” said the ECB statement.

“The ECB can confirm that England men’s all-rounder Ben Stokes will take an indefinite break from all cricket with immediate effect,” the ECB added in a statement.

Stokes, who had fractured his left index finger during the Indian Premier League (IPL) and had withdrawn from it, had taken rest from cricket.

Post-surgery, Stokes was called upon by his county Durham to feature in T20 Blast matches. He played six T20 Blast matches. The all-rounder was not scheduled to play the limited-overs series against Pakistan in but had to be called upon to lead after seven Covid-19 cases in the regular team forced the entire squad into self-isolation.

Although England won the ODIs against Pakistan 3-0 this month, Stokes confessed to have played with great pain.

“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. 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,” he wrote in his column for The Mirror.

The ECB said it supports Stokes’s decision to withdraw from the series against India for an indefinite break.

“The ECB fully supports Ben’s decision, and we will continue to help him during this period away from the game,” added ECB in the statement.

“Ben will be given as long as he needs, and we look forward to seeing him playing cricket for England in the future,” it said.

Stokes will be replaced in the squad by bowling all-rounder Craig Overton.