Ben Stokes will miss the rest of the summer for personal reasons.
The all-rounder informed his teammates and the England management that he will be returning to New Zealand to be with his family after the culmination of the first Test against Pakistan at Emirates Old Trafford. He will leave the United Kingdom later this week to travel to Christchurch, his place of birth, and will miss the remaining two Test matches against Pakistan at the Ageas Bowl.
There has been no confirmation over the exact issue, and the Stokes family, along with the England and Wales Cricket Board, have requested privacy at this time.
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Earlier this year, Stokes’ father, Ged, fell ill while out in South Africa with Ben for the tour of South Africa. He was admitted to a hospital in Johannesburg in December and remained there until he was given the all-clear to return to New Zealand at the end of January.
The Stokes family stayed by his side while Ben continued with the series, helping England to a 3-1 series win with 318 runs and 17 wickets.
That included a century at Cape Town which Ben marked by raising four fingers to the sky to acknowledge his father who had his middle finger amputated to prolong a rugby league career.
The 29-year old has played a crucial part of England’s summer so far, scoring 363 runs alongside nine dismissals, while captaining his country in the first Test of the summer against West Indies in relief of Joe Root.
He had a relatively subdued game in the first Test against Pakistan but took two important wickets in the second innings and two catches as England chased 277 to win by three wickets.
That he has played the last two matches as a batsman only – though he did bowl four overs in the Pakistan Test – will make any decision around his replacement relatively simple. England went into both with four bowlers in Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad and James Anderson.
Zak Crawley, who played the first two Tests of the summer, could come back in at number three to push Joe Root back to four. Sussex seamer Ollie Robinson is also joining the training group at the Ageas Bowl bubble on Monday.
Though Joe Root will lose his vice-captain, with Jos Buttler likely to step into the role, his desire for an all-rounder may also be satisfied by Woakes, who took England to victory on Saturday with an unbeaten 84 and has picked up 16 wickets at an average of 15.8 this summer.