Moeen Ali, England’s best bowler in their crushing Test defeat by India, has chosen to return home and miss the rest of the series.
The decision, announced by captain Joe Root, added to controversy over England’s policy of rotating players in and out of squads during the coronavirus pandemic.
Moeen missed England’s clean sweep 2-0 series win in Sri Lanka after catching the coronavirus and was rested for the first Test victory against India.
But he took eight wickets in the second Test won by India by 317 runs inside four days to level the four-match series at 1-1.
Moeen also smashed 43 off 18 deliveries in the second innings to highlight his value to the side.
“Moeen has chosen to go home,” skipper Joe Root told reporters. “I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision.”
“It’s obviously been a very tricky tour for him. As mentioned at the start, if players feel like they need to get out of the bubble, then that’s been an option.
“It is really important that we stand by that. That decision has been made. Hopefully he feels better for it.”
Jos Buttler went home after the first Test in Chennai while Jonny Bairstow will be back for the third Test in Ahmedabad.
Former captain Michael Vaughan expressed bemusement at England’s selection.
“I thought Test cricket was the main priority after 2019 to make sure England try and get back the Ashes,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Why is it then that the Test team is being swapped and changed every week but the T20 team are at full strength.”
The day-night Test begins February 24 in Ahmedabad.
England squad for third Test: Joe Root (capt), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood