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Ben Stokes after a net session for Durham
Ben Stokes after a net session for Durham

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has withdrawn from the Test squad to face India in order to prioritise his mental wellbeing and to rest his injured finger.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday revealed Stokes has decided to take an indefinite break from all cricket with immediate effect.

Stokes has been captaining the Northern Superchargers in the inaugural Hundred competition but he will not be in the England side to face India when a five-match series starts next week.

Craig Overton will replace the vice-captain in the squad to take on Virat Kohli's side.

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 suffered a broken left index finger while playing in the Indian Premier League in April but returned to action with Durham in June.

He was back on international duty earlier than expected this month, stepping in to captain a new-look England side in an ODI series whitewash of Pakistan after a coronavirus outbreak saw the initial squad stood down en masse.

It remains to be seen when Stokes, whose father died last December following a battle with cancer, will return to action.

His withdrawal from the squad to face India comes after the ECB revealed it will hold talks with Cricket Australia over coronavirus restrictions during the Ashes, amid concerns that several senior players may be reluctant to tour.

England are due to start their bid to regain the urn at The Gabba on December 8, with the fifth and final Test scheduled to begin at Optus Stadium in Perth on January 18.

Multi-format players such as Stokes and would face several months away from home, with the T20 World Cup taking place in the United Arab Emirates prior to the Ashes.

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