England all-rounder Ben Stokes will not be taking further part in the remainder of the Test series against Pakistan due to family reasons.
According to a statement from England and Wales Cricket Board, Stokes will be departing from the United Kingdom later this week to travel to New Zealand. He will be missing out on the two remaining Test matches against Pakistan at the Ageas Bowl starting from 13th August and 21st August respectively.
The England and Wales Cricket Board requested all media houses to respect the family’s privacy. Although the reason for Stokes’ departure is not evident at the moment, given that his father, former Rugby player Ged Stokes fell seriously ill during son Ben’s visit with the England squad to South Africa earlier this year, it could be likely that Stokes will return to New Zealand for reasons related to the same.
This also comes as a big blow to the England Cricket team, who will miss the services of their talismanic all-rounder for potentially the rest of the summer, who has had a major impact in this summer of Cricket itself. Stokes was the leading run-scorer in the Test series against West Indies with 363 runs at 90.75 in the three matches, with a tenacious 356 ball 176 in the 2nd Test. He also took 9 wickets in the series at 16.33.
Despite nursing a quad injury, Stokes came on to bowl in the 2nd innings of the previous Test match against Pakistan and took the crucial wicket of a well-set Mohammad Rizwan, in addition to bouncing Shaheen Afridi out later in the innings.
It will be interesting to see how England rearranges their team composition now. Ollie Robinson was added to the bio-secure bubble during the 1st Test, but given that England already have 4 quicks operating, it is improbable for Robinson to be added to the XI. Despite losing Stokes, England still have an in-form all-rounder in Chris Woakes, who played a gem of an innings to guide England home in the 1st Test yesterday. There could be the possibility that the England selectors might consider playing a specialist wicketkeeper in Ben Foakes and relieve Buttler off his ‘keeping duties, to ensure that he maintains his form with the bat from the last game and bat freely in the middle order. Or, if they consider playing an extra batsman, they can recall Zak Crawley, who impressed one and all with his gritty 76 against the West Indies in the first Test, batting at 3 in the absence of Joe Root.