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Ben Stokes: England star taking ‘indefinite break’ from cricket to prioritise mental wellbeing and rest finger

·2-min read
Ben Stokes will not be part of England’s Test squad against India (AP)
Ben Stokes will not be part of England’s Test squad against India (AP)

England all-rounder Ben Stokes is taking an “indefinite break” from all forms of cricket with immediate effect.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed on Friday that Stokes was stepping away from the game to prioritise his mental wellbeing and rest his still troublesome left index finger, on which he had surgery in April after suffering a fracture while playing for the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

However, the injury - which ruled him out of the start of England’s international summer against New Zealand - is yet to properly heal.

It means the 30-year-old has withdrawn from England’s Test squad for the upcoming five-match series against India, which begins at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on Wednesday (August 4).

Somerset's Craig Overton has replaced Stokes in the squad.

The ECB said they fully back Stokes’ decision and will continue to support him while he takes a break from cricket.

"Ben has shown tremendous courage to open up about his feelings and wellbeing,” said Ashley Giles, managing director of England men’s cricket.

"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 over the last 16 months 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."

Stokes was not called up for the recent ODI and T20 series against Pakistan, but returned to the fold and was selected as captain of an entirely new England group after the whole original squad were stood down due to positive Covid-19 tests.

The 30-year-old, who plays his county cricket for Durham, has also been skippering the Northern Superchargers in the inaugural edition of The Hundred.

Stokes’ break from cricket comes days after USA gymnastics superstar Simone Biles withdrew from the team and all-around Olympic finals in Tokyo in order to prioritise her mental health.

Back in May, tennis star Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open and took a break from the court as she opened up on her battles with anxiety and depression.

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