Ben Stokes takes indefinite break from cricket to ‘prioritise mental wellbeing’


Kevin Pietersen and Gary Lineker are among the many main sporting figures to present assist for Ben Stokes after the England all-rounder determined to taken an indefinite break from cricket with quick impact “to prioritise his mental wellbeing”.

The England and Wales Cricket Board introduced on Friday night that Stokes will play no half within the forthcoming Test collection in opposition to India. As properly as stepping again for the sake of mental wellbeing, the 30-year-old can be searching for to relaxation his injured left index finger, which has not absolutely healed since his return to aggressive cricket this month.

“Ben has shown tremendous courage to open up about his feelings and wellbeing,” mentioned the managing director of England males’s cricket, Ashley Giles, in an announcement. “Our primary focus has always been and will continue to be the mental health and welfare of all of our people. The demands on our athletes to prepare and play elite sport are relentless in a typical environment, but the ongoing pandemic has acutely compounded this.

“Spending significant amounts of time away from family, with minimal freedoms, is extremely challenging. The cumulative effect of operating almost continuously in these environments has had a major impact on everyone’s wellbeing. Ben will be given as long as he needs and we look forward to seeing him playing cricket for England in the future.”

As properly as dealing with life in bio-secure bubbles in the course of the previous 16 months – which he has completed with the Rajasthan Royals within the Indian Premier League in addition to with England’s Test and limited-overs squads – Stokes has additionally had to cope with the demise of his father Ged in December after he had suffered from mind most cancers in the course of the ultimate yr of his life.

Stokes has thrown himself into cricket this summer time, that includes for Durham within the T20 Blast and for the Northern Superchargers within the Hundred, in addition to this month captaining a makeshift England aspect to a 3-0 one-day series victory over Pakistan after the first-choice squad had to go into isolation.

It has been full-on schedule, with extra to come within the type of the Test collection in opposition to India, and Stokes has in the end determined to take a complete break. He shall be changed within the squad that takes on India by Somerset’s Craig Overton. The first Test begins at Trent Bridge on Wednesday.

“It was quite interesting because when he [Stokes] got asked a question about his finger the other night, his response was not your normal response … it was like there was something more,” mentioned Pietersen. “I hope he’s OK – he’s a fabulous cricketer, one of the best in the world at the moment.”

Writing on Twitter, Lineker mentioned: “Wishing @benstokes38 a speedy recovery. When our sporting heroes are brave and open up about their mental health problems it will help others realise they are not alone with theirs.”

Also writing on Twitter, the previous England hooker Brian Moore mentioned: “Best wishes to Ben Stokes. I hope his mental health issues get sorted out as quickly as possible and without criticism.”

There has additionally been assist for Stokes from the previous Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara. He mentioned: “It must be a very, very tough time for Ben and his family. It won’t be a decision made easily but it brings into focus the level elite players play at – your coping mechanism can only deal with so much.

“Different individuals deal with things differently, some are able to cope with it and some aren’t, and over time you can reach a point where you need a break. But the fact is he has to be OK. He needs the support of good people around him.”

Stokes is the newest high-profile athlete, following the likes of Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles, to prioritise mental wellbeing over competitors and his choice to achieve this brings into focus the pressures going through England cricketers, which is considerably well timed given that’s to be the topic of key talks between the ECB and Cricket Australia within the coming weeks over whether or not households shall be allowed to accompany the gamers to the Ashes this winter.

The Australian authorities has restricted the variety of abroad arrivals in the course of the pandemic, with hundreds of its residents unable to return and Covid-19 circumstances surging within the nation’s largest cities amid a sluggish roll-out of the vaccination programme. England’s Test squad, and particularly the gamers who function in all codecs, may go up to 4 months with out seeing their households due to the collection happening three weeks after the Twenty20 World Cup within the United Arab Emirates and Oman is ready to end in November.

“This week, several meetings have been held between the England men’s players, ECB and Team England Player Partnership to discuss provisional plans for the tour of Australia later in the year,” a joint assertion from the ECB and PCA learn. “All parties are collaborating and will continue to work together to understand protocols around bubble environments, family provision and quarantine rules that will be in place for the tour during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

“With player and management’s welfare paramount, the ECB will discuss planning and operational requirements with Cricket Australia in the coming weeks and how they seek to implement their policies in partnership with state and federal governments.

“All stakeholders are committed to putting player and staff welfare as the main priority and finding the right solutions that enable the England team to compete with the best players and at the highest possible standard that the Ashes series deserves.”

The 2005 Ashes-winning captain, Michael Vaughan, mentioned final week he would be amazed if England were at full strength until journey exemption was given for the vacationers’ households. A possible various can be to base the households in New Zealand, the place a journey hall into Australia had been established – though that was suspended this month.

The England off-spinner Dom Bess mentioned on Tuesday it could be exhausting to flip down the prospect of being concerned in an Ashes collection even when the restrictions made it tough for household to be current on the tour.

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He mentioned: “Obviously I don’t know what will be happening or what Australia and their regulations are – but I think if your name was on the ticket and you were going to an Ashes series as a 24-year-old, you would never ever turn that down. I think it would be very tough leaving family and supporters at home but it is an Ashes series away from home, something you dream of, playing against the Australians in Australia and looking to win there. I don’t think anyone would be able to turn that down, certainly anyone who has dreams of doing that.”



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