England v Pakistan: Huge blow for England as Stokes is ruled out of the Series

Ben Stokes, pictured here saddened on the field, will not be taking part in the 2 remaining test matches between England and Pakistan

Less than 24 hours after completing a remarkable comeback win in the first test match in the series against Pakistan at Old Trafford, England have been dealt a huge blow ahead of the Second Test when the ECB announced that Ben Stokes will miss the remainder of the Series for family reasons.

These family reasons remain unknown, and we won’t speculate, but what we do know is that he will travel to New Zealand to spend time with his family and that rules him out of the remaining two matches.

England now have a real problem on their hands.

They can replace him with specialist batsman Zak Crawley, or they can recall all-rounder Sam Curran, but neither of them provides anything like what Stokes contributes to the cause.

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Why is Stokes so important to the team?

For the past couple of years, Stokes has become England’s best and most important batsman.

Batting at five, he’s at times piled the pressure onto bowlers when they were already in trouble, at other times he’s rescued them from impossible situations, like when he almost single-handedly got England over the line against Australia in last year’s Ashes at Headingley.

As recently as last month, he was being named man of the match for his efforts against West Indies in the Second Test.

And that’s not even half the story.

At the moment he’s carrying an injury and hardly bowled at all against Pakistan in the First Test but when he did, he took two crucial wickets to break important partnerships when Pakistan were looking to set England a big total.

He also happens to be England’s best fielder and is the vice-captain.

Perhaps most importantly of all, he’s the man in the side who has the X-factor about him, like Quinton de Kock for South Africa with the bat or Rashid Khan for Afghanistan, with the ball.

So, you can see why he’s the one player in the side who is absolutely irreplaceable.

What next?

This is awful news for England but excellent news for Pakistan and good news for the neutral, as well, who can now look forward to a more balanced two Tests now that England have lost their star man.

The bookmakers have reacted accordingly, lengthening the odds on England to win the Second Test, who are now close to 2.0 with most bookmakers.

It’s 3.5 the draw and 4.0 on Pakistan.

Remember to come back on Wednesday for a preview of the Second Test.

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