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

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Ben Stokes is taking an indefinite break from all cricket with immediate effect “to prioritise his mental wellbeing”, the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced. The 30-year-old all-rounder will play no part in the forthcoming Test series against India in an attempt also to rest his injured left index finger, which has not fully healed since his return to competitive cricket this month.

The managing director of England men’s cricket, Ashley Giles, said: “Ben has shown tremendous courage to open up about his feelings and wellbeing. 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, who this month captained a makeshift England side to a 3-0 one-day series victory over Pakistan after the first-choice squad had to go into isolation, will be replaced in the squad that takes on India by Somerset’s Craig Overton. The first Test begins at Trent Bridge on Wednesday.

The pressures facing England cricketers will be the subject of key talks between the ECB and Cricket Australia in the coming weeks over whether families will be allowed to accompany the players to the Ashes this winter. In a joint statement from the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA), the ECB pledged to put player welfare at the heart of any policy but remain committed to finding a solution where England’s best players can play in the five-Test series.

The Australian government has limited the number of overseas arrivals during the pandemic, with thousands of its citizens unable to return and Covid-19 cases surging in the country’s largest cities amid a slow roll-out of the vaccination programme.

England’s Test squad, and in particular the players who feature in all formats, could go up to four months without seeing their families because of the series taking place three weeks after the Twenty20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman is set to finish 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 statement from the ECB and PCA read. “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…

Read More: Ben Stokes takes indefinite break from cricket to ‘prioritise mental wellbeing’ 2021-07-30 14:19:00

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