ENGLAND will not even consider sending an SOS to Ben Stokes as they attempt to come back from defeat in the First Test.
Superstar all-rounder Stokes is taking an indefinite break from cricket to prioritise his mental welfare.
And head coach Chris Silverwood plans letting Stokes stay away from the game for as long as he wants.
Silverwood said: “There’s still no time limit on it, to be honest. The important thing is that Ben is okay, his family are okay and that he comes back strong.
“When he re-enters the frame, it’s important he’s ready in his mindset to come back to perform for England, like we know he can.
“I’m certainly not pushing him for an answer. I don’t think that would be the right thing to do.
“There are people around him, supporting him, and when he’s ready to come back, we’ll obviously welcome him with open arms.
“There’s no pushing from my point of view, I don’t think you can push these issues. I’ll wait.”
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To get your ducks in a row means to be organised. But, for England, it means they are a disorganised, desperate batting shambles.
Never before have an England team been afflicted by so many batsmen getting out for nought. It has become an epidemic.
Look at the numbers for the batsmen who played for England in the Second Test – they are almost beyond belief….
Rory Burns has six ducks in his last 14 innings (including three in his last five), Dom Sibley has four in his last 18, Haseeb Hameed one in his last two, Jonny Bairstow three in his last eight, Jos Buttler one in his last four, Moeen Ali four in his last 13 and Sam Curran four in his last nine (all four of which are golden ducks).
And what about Joe Root? Well, the captain has no ducks in his last 40 Test match innings. So, yes, England are a one-man batting team.
It means the selectors will almost certainly make changes when they announce the squad for next week’s Third Test at Headingley.
SILVERWOOD KEEPING FAITH
Sibley is the man under most threat with his likely exclusion allowing Hameed to move up to open and someone like Dawid Malan coming in at No.3.
Sibley narrowly kept his place for Lord’s while Zak Crawley (two ducks in his last nine innings) was dropped. Another batsman who has featured recently is Dan Lawrence, who has three ducks in his last five attempts.
Head coach Silverwood has invested a couple of years in the likes of Burns, Sibley and Crawley.
They are misfiring terribly – but Silverwood knows he can’t rip up everything and start again mid-series against India and with the Ashes starting in three months.
There are few alternatives and, because of the Hundred, no contenders have played red-ball cricket for weeks.
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Silverwood said: “It used to burn me when I got out for nought – and I was a bowler! No-one means to do it. They want to make a contribution for their country and for their team-mates.
“We’re having a similar conversation as we did after the last Test. Big first innings runs are a priority for us and we have to keep working hard with the batsmen, keep trying to build confidence, working on everything that goes with the mental and technical side of things.
“There’s not any lack of effort. But, equally, we have at some point to put runs on the board. We went a little way towards doing that in the first innings at Lord’s with a couple of good partnerships but by no means are we the finished article.
“It’s not ideal having no red-ball cricket. To bring in people from the Hundred or the Royal London Cup and throw them into Test cricket…well, we’ve seen the pressure is huge in this series. It’s being played with a lot of passion, which is great to see, but it’s a difficult transition.
“If people do come in, we’ve got to work hard to try to get them up to speed quickly. And equally work hard with the guys we have in the bubble now to continue trying to progress.”
Silverwood added: “We had a debrief last night. We talk about things very openly and honestly in the dressing-room. I believe it’s beneficial to talk maturely about what’s happened without letting emotions get in the way.
“We have a little space between now and the next Test at Headingley. The players can go home, spend some time with their families, calm down a little, clear their minds and come back fresh.”