Premier all-rounder Ben Stokes remains unavailable for selection and will not be travelling to Australia with England’s Ashes touring contingent, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed on Sunday (October 10) while announcing an extended squad for the marquee five-match Test series.
Stokes has been on an indefinite break from the game since the end of July to resolve his mental health concerns. After being ruled out of the T20 World Cup in UAE, the cricketer is also set to skip the difficult tour Down Under.
This will be the second successive Ashes tour that Stokes will miss after being ruled out of the 2017-18 series due to the controversial night brawl incident.
The ECB confirmed the news on Ben Stokes, stating in a release, he “was not available for selection and continues to take an indefinite break from all cricket to prioritise his mental wellbeing and rehabilitation from his injured left index finger.”
Stokes’ absence adds to England’s woes at a time when express pacer Jofra Archer is already ruled out for the entire year due to his elbow surgery and its extended rehab. The speedster has been missing from cricket action since March earlier this year.
In ideal circumstances, England would’ve had both Stokes and Archer pushing to regain the urn in Australian conditions. But now, Joe Root and company will have to make do on their most challenging tour without two of their best cricketers.
Sam Curran also set to miss the Ashes trip
England selectors also that informed all-rounder Sam Curran was not considered for selection because of a lower back injury. Curran was ruled out of England’s squad for the T20 World Cup recently and is now also set to miss what would’ve been his maiden Test tour of Australia after a second scan confirmed that he has a stress fracture in his lower back.
Besides Stokes, Archer and Curran, the rest of the England Test squad retains its core for the Ashes. There were speculations that wicketkeeper Jos Buttler may opt-out of the tour due to concerns around hard quarantine and bubble fatigue. But his selection indicates a sign of reassurance within the England camp related to the bio-security protocols in Australia.
Reports did the rounds for a while that Root’s men will withdraw from the Ashes 2021-22 if their family members are not allowed and they have to go through an extended pre-series quarantine and tackle a stringent bio-bubble through the tour.
However, in a positive turn of events, the ECB confirmed earlier this week that they’ve agreed to travel Down Under on “conditional” grounds as long as Cricket Australia (CA) fulfils the promises made, leading to a more relaxed set of restrictions for touring England players.
“Ashes tour is subject to several critical conditions being met by Cricket Australia before the team travels in November,” the ECB reiterated in their latest media release.
The first Test will be held in Brisbane from December 8, followed by matches in Adelaide (Dec 12-16, D/N), Melbourne (Dec 26-30), Sydney (January 5-9) and Perth (Jan 14-18).
England’s Ashes squad: Joe Root (Yorkshire) Captain, James Anderson (Lancashire), Jonathan Bairstow (Yorkshire), Dom Bess (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Haseeb Hameed (Nottinghamshire), Dan Lawrence (Essex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Dawid Malan (Yorkshire), Craig Overton (Somerset), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham)