Ben Stokes takes ”indefinite break” ahead of India Tests to prioritize mental well-being

Ben Stokes has made himself unavailable for England’s Test series against India and will take “an indefinite break from all cricket” to prioritize mental wellbeing and further his recovery from a finger injury.

Last year, Stokes spent significant spells away from home in bio-secure environments with England’s Test and limited-overs squads and with Rajasthan Royals in the IPL. He missed two of England’s Tests against Pakistan last summer in order to see his family in New Zealand, and he suffered a personal setback in December when his father Ged left for heavenly abode after a prolonged battle with brain cancer.

England’s buccaneering all-rounder also nursed a finger injury throughout the summer, which has taken much longer to heal than expected. Nevertheless, Stokes was rushed back into the fold to play for Durham in the Vitality Blast after coronavirus penetrated their second XI squad, and then returned to England duty ahead of schedule, as they fell alarmingly short of personnel due to similar reasons, to lead a second-string team to a 3-0 ODI series win against Pakistan.

The ECB said in a statement that it fully supports Stokes’ decision and that it would continue to help him during this period away from the game. Stokes has been replaced in the squad for the high-profile Test series, which begins on August 4 at Trent Bridge, by Craig Overton. His withdrawal is a crushing blow to England’s chances in the series, considering his all-round value and the wealth of experience he brings to the table.