Ashley Giles has flown home from England’s Ashes tour of Australia to be with his wife Stine, who has been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
The Warwickshire left-arm spinner will be replaced in England’s Ashes Test squad by Middlesex off-spinner Jamie Dalrymple, currently in Australia with the ECB National Academy squad.
England head coach Duncan Fletcher said: "This is very distressing news for Ashley, and the thoughts of all the players and management are with him and Stine at such a difficult time.
"It is typical of Ashley that he has dealt with this in such a professional manner, and we wish Stine a speedy recovery."
Fletcher stressed how impressed he has been by Giles’ attitude in such trying circumstances.
"It’s very difficult for him - especially knowing the man because he’s a real professional cricketer," he said of the slow left-armer, who was dropped for the ongoing Third Test in Perth in favour of Monty Panesar.
"I’ve been involved with England for seven years and I rate him as probably the most professional cricketer I’ve dealt with in England.
"For a man like that who’s passionate about playing for England, who really wanted to play for England and got upset when he wasn’t playing it must be very hard for him."
Giles returned to the England squad just in time for this winter’s Ashes series, having spent almost a year on the sidelines because of hip and groin injuries.
"To come back and take the flak he did and suddenly get this news must be very hard," added Fletcher.
"He handled it very well. When he left last night we just wished him well - and we hope everything turns out fine for the family."
Fletcher insisted England’s struggles on the third day in Perth today were not connected to the news.
"I don’t think it had an effect on the players today," he claimed. "Some of the players heard last night and they were pretty upset, but when we arrived this morning we said it was for Ashley and we had to go out there and play some good cricket."
Colin Povey, chief executive of Warwickshire County Cricket Club, said: "This is very sad news. The thoughts of all the Warwickshire players and staff are with Ashley and his family.
"The club have offered Ash and Stine all the help and support they need to get through this difficult time."
The player was due to get back to his home, in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, on Sunday.