Ben Stokes is set to be omitted from England’s initial 15-man squad for the T20 World Cup in October and November, and may yet miss the tournament entirely, after Chris Silverwood said that the selectors would “leave it late” to decide on his involvement.
Stokes has not featured at any stage of the ongoing Test series against India, after taking an indefinite break from cricket to manage his mental health, and to recover fully from a badly broken finger, sustained during Rajasthan Royals’ opening match of the IPL in April.
He made a premature comeback during England’s ODI campaign against Pakistan in July, when he led a scratch side to a remarkable 3-0 series win following the isolation of the first-choice squad due to a Covid outbreak in the preceding Sri Lanka series.
However, he admitted he was still troubled by his finger during that series, and after a year spent contending with the strictures of Covid-secure bio-bubbles, as well as the emotional toil caused by the death of his father Ged, Stokes withdrew from action on the eve of the India series after two appearances for Northern Superchargers in the inaugural season of The Hundred.
England name their initial 15-man World Cup squad on Thursday, but they have until October 10 to make any changes ahead of their opening fixture, in Dubai on October 23 against West Indies – the team that beat them in the final of the last tournament in India in 2016.
Speaking in the wake of England’s defeat to India in the fourth LV= Insurance Test at the Kia Oval, Silverwood said that he had not yet made any direct contact with Stokes, but that he would not be pressing him for a return date.
“We are going to leave that one late, to give it our best chance,” Silverwood said. “Whatever support Ben needs he will get from us.
“I haven’t spoken to him as yet. I want to give him as much space as possible. There are people talking to him outside of me but it is something we will be revisiting shortly. I will not be putting pressure on him or rushing him.”
Stokes’ absence from England’s plans would be a major blow to their hopes of adding the 20-over title to the 50-over crown that he himself had been so instrumental in securing in that unforgettable tied final against New Zealand, at Lord’s in 2019. But Silverwood will not be rushed on that front.
“First and foremost my only concern is for him and to make sure he’s okay,” he said. “That’s the starting point and the rest of the questions will come but first and foremost I need to make sure he is okay and that is my primary concern.”
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.