Ben Stokes’ absence will hurt England’s Ashes chances more than T20 prospects, feels Michael Atherton
England have some options in the T20 setup to back up the absence of Stokes, but the same can't be said about the Test side.
Updated - Sep 14, 2021 10:48 am
Ben Stokes has been quite an important player for England in ODIs and Tests in recent times. With the T20 World Cup 2021 on its way, the all-rounder was going to be a key player for the big tournament in the United Arab Emirates. But his indefinite break from cricket has put England in a difficult position, which was on display more than one time during the recently concluded series against India.
Former England captain Michael Atherton in his column has expressed the concerns around Stokes’ unavailability for the winter when England will travel to Australia for the Ashes 2021-22. He has argued that England would miss more during that tour than they will during the T20 World Cup.
“If Stokes is absent for the entire winter, it will hurt England’s Ashes chances more than their T20 prospects. Without him, balancing the side remains problematic, genuine all-rounders of that class being a rarity,” Atherton wrote in the Times. Atherton’s point seems valid if we take a look at his T20I numbers.
His predicament highlights the extreme demands on multiformat players: Michael Atherton on Ben Stokes
Because he has been an integral part of the ODI and Test squad, Stokes has missed several T20I series in the past few years, which has not allowed him to have great T20I numbers. With the presence of players like Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone and Sam Curran, England have a mix of all-rounders who won’t make them miss Stokes entirely. However, in Tests, there isn’t such a replacement for the Durham all-rounder.
“His predicament highlights the extreme demands on multiformat players, which Covid is exacerbating. Events in Manchester on Friday suggest nothing about the winter can be predicted with any great certainty,” Atherton further wrote.
England didn’t have an ideal summer and their hopes of conquering Australia don’t seem too bright at this moment. They lost the series against New Zealand by 1-0, their first since 2014 at home. With one Test to go in the series against India, England was 2-1 down which meant that they would go without a series win this summer. Atherton didn’t fail to highlight Joe Root’s extraordinary form and the emergence of Ollie Robinson as a bright point.
“Root’s princely form was the biggest plus from the Tests, alongside the debut of Ollie Robinson and the continuing excellence of James Anderson. Both Robinson and Anderson will take a well-deserved rest now, Robinson having emerged as a bowler of real excellence with 28 wickets from his first five Tests. If Stuart Broad fails to recover in time for the Ashes, his loss will be not so keenly felt,” Atherton wrote.