Michael Atherton feels the England Test side without Ben Stokes will be more depleted than the T20 side without the all-rounder. Stokes pulled out of the Test series against India to tend to his mental well-being; his break from cricket has extended as the all-rounder is unavailable for the T20 World Cup as well.
England had a disappointing Test summer: they lost to New Zealand and then had been trailing India by 2-1 before the fifth Test was called off. On the other hand, despite the absence of the superstar all-rounder, Eoin Morgan’s white-ball team remain one of the favourites for the T20 World Cup.
With the Ashes slated for Australia this time, where England haven’t won a single Test on their last two tours, Michael Atherton reckons it would be a problem to balance the side in absence of Stokes.
In his column for The Times, Michael Atherton wrote, “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.
“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.”
Michael Atherton lists out the positive for England from the summer
The “princely form” of captain Joe Root was England’s massive takeaway from the summer. Root struck three centuries in four Tests scoring 564 runs at an average of 94.
While James Anderson, with 15 wickets, once again showed his agelessness, the emergence of Ollie Robinson (21 wickets) will give the management confidence when they tour Australia.
“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,” the 53-year-old former skipper opined.
Meanwhile, some of the England players – Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, and Chris Woakes – have withdrawn from the second half of the IPL 2021 to spend some time away from the bio-bubble. All three of them will feature in the T20 World Cup and are likely to tour Australia for the Ashes as well.