England all-rounder Ben Stokes has taken an indefinite break from cricket and will miss the upcoming five-match Test series against India, which will start on August 4. The England Cricket Board (ECB) announced the same on Friday, July 30. The board informed that Stokes wants to focus on mental well-being. At the same time, his index finger will also get a chance to heal.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has confirmed that Shubman Gill, Washington Sundar, and Avesh Khan have been ruled out of the upcoming five-match Test series against England. Opener Prithvi Shaw and middle-order batsman Suryakumar Yadav have been named as replacements. Jayant Yadav’s name, which was also doing the rounds, does not feature in the updated squad. BCCI also informed that Rishabh Pant has joined the Indian squad after recovering from Covid-19. Further, Abhimanyu Easwaran has been added to the squad from the standby players' list.
England have announced a 17-member squad for the first two Tests of the five-match series against India. Fast bowler Jofra Archer remains unavailable while Ben Stokes and Ollie Robinson both make a return. Robinson comes back after he was fined and handed an eight-match ban, five of which are suspended for two years, for offensive historical tweets. His posts went viral on his Test debut against New Zealand.
In what was inevitable, COVID-19 has hit the Indian camp in England. After it was revealed that wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant is COVID-positive, support staff Dayananda Garani has also returned a positive test. The other wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha has also been forced into isolation after being identified as as a close contact. As for Pant, he will have to get a negative test on Sunday to quit the quarantine and join the team. Bowling coach Bharat Arun is also isolating after he too was found to be a close contact.
Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar has stated that he is “amazed” with the Indian team being given a three-week break ahead of the five-match Test series against England. India recently went down to New Zealand by eight wickets in the World Test Championship (WTC) final in Southampton. Their Test series against England will begin with the first match in Nottingham from August 4. The massive gap between two events is due to the COVID-related protocols and restrictions.
Former Indian batsman Dilip Vengsarkar feels that the upcoming tour of England will be India’s best chance to win a series in England since they have a very good batting as well as bowling line-up. India will play six Tests during their tour of England, beginning with the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand, followed by five Tests against the hosts. India have not won a Test series in England since 2007, when Rahul Dravid was the captain and Vengsarkar the chief selector.
England’s managing director Ashley Giles has confirmed that they have no plans to tweak their schedule to accommodate the IPL, which is likely to resume in the second half of September. Giles also reiterated that England players won’t be released for the second half of the IPL as the team priority comes first.
Indian cricketers will leave for their long tour of the UK on June 2 after completing the eight-day hard quarantine period in Mumbai. India will first take on New Zealand in the World Test Championship (WTC) final in Southampton from June 18-22, which will be followed by five Test matches against England.