Ben Stokes marked his first innings since being appointed England test captain by smashing 17 sixes, a record in English county cricket.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has withdrawn from the home test series against India starting next week to “take an indefinite break from all cricket.”

Stokes wants “to prioritise his mental wellbeing and to rest his left index finger, which has not fully healed since his return to competitive cricket earlier this month,” the England and Wales Cricket Board said in a statement on Friday.

“The ECB fully supports Ben’s decision, and we will continue to help him during this period away from the game.”

Stokes broke the finger in the Indian Premier League in April and returned home for an operation. It also ruled him out of England’s test series against New Zealand in June and the following limited-overs series against Sri Lanka.

But when the England squad had to isolate because of a virus outbreak, Stokes accepted an emergency call to captain England in a one-day international series against Pakistan this month. After winning the series, he stepped back from England duty again.

“Ben has shown tremendous courage to open up about his feelings and wellbeing,” ECB managing director of men’s cricket Ashley Giles said in a statement.

“Our primary focus has always been, and will continue to be, the mental health and welfare of all of our people. The demands on our athletes to prepare and play elite sport are relentless in a typical environment, but the ongoing pandemic has acutely compounded this.

“Spending significant amounts of time away from family, with minimal freedoms, is extremely challenging. The cumulative effect of operating almost continuously in these environments over the last 16 months has had a major impact on everyone’s wellbeing.”

“Ben will be given as long as he needs.”

Stokes will be replaced in the squad by Somerset’s Craig Overton.

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