Ben Stokes “will take an indefinite break from all cricket with immediate effect” and has withdrawn from England’s squad for the five-Test series against India.
The all-rounder will prioritise his mental wellbeing and rest his left index finger which has not fully healed, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said in a statement. Stokes, 30, will be replaced in the squad by Somerset’s Craig Overton.
The Test series begins on Wednesday.
“Ben has shown tremendous courage to open up about his feelings and wellbeing,” Ashley Giles, managing director of England men’s cricket, added. “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.”
The decision comes at the start of a busy period for England. Five Tests against India are quickly followed by the Twenty20 World Cup in October and November and this winter’s Ashes series against Australia, which begins in December.
Stokes took a period of compassionate leave between August and October last year, missing two Tests, to be with his father Ged, who died in December last year.
He was rested for two Tests in Sri Lanka in January and, after returning for England’s series defeat in India, missed the home Test series against New Zealand in June having broken his finger playing in the Indian Premier League
Stokes returned to England duty earlier this month to captain the 50-over side against Pakistan after a Covid outbreak forced England to name an entirely new squad.
Having led England to a series win against Pakistan, Stokes most recently captained Northern Superchargers in the opening two games of The Hundred.