England cricket star Ben Stokes will take an “indefinite break” from the sport to focus on his mental health. The move follows similar steps by women’s sports stars Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles.
Stokes has pulled out of England’s squad ahead of the Test series against India starting next week “to prioritise his mental wellbeing and to rest his left index finger, which has not fully healed since his return to competitive cricket earlier this month,” the ECB announced in a statement.
“Ben has shown tremendous courage to open up about his feelings and wellbeing,” said managing director of England Men’s Cricket, Ashley Giles.
Official Statement: Ben Stokes
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 30, 2021
“Our primary focus has always been and will continue to be the mental health and welfare of all of our people,” Giles added.
“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.”
Ben Stokes withdrawing from the test series is big news. Virtually impossible to replace. So many elite sportspeople getting affected.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) July 30, 2021
The decision by Stokes – considered one of the finest players in the world at present – follows similar breaks for mental health reasons taken by tennis star Naomi Osaka and US gymnast Simone Biles.
Both have received widespread support from fans and fellow sports stars, although some such as UK TV personality Piers Morgan have accused them of weakness.
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After it was announced that Stokes, 30, would take a break some wondered whether he would be subjected to the same treatment from the likes of cricket fan Morgan.
Let’s see if Piers Morgan thinks Ben Stokes is weak and letting his team down. He has had so much to say regarding Simone Biles this week, lets see how he feels when it’s someone playing in a sport he enjoys. https://t.co/2Np8bdb5HV
— Corrina (@Corrinaaaaaaaa_) July 30, 2021
I wish Ben Stokes well as he withdraws from cricket to protect his mental health
I expect Piers Morgan will say that he represents how weak this generation of sports stars are – not in some pathetic tweet, but to his face
Then again, Ben is not a woman of colour, so perhaps not https://t.co/cTro8SmU8K
— nazir afzal (@nazirafzal) July 30, 2021
Fascinating to see what Piers Morgan's response will be to Ben Stokes's withdrawal from the England Test cricket squad in part to protect his mental wellbeing. Wonder if he'll take the same stance he has against women of colour.
— Matthew Stadlen (@MatthewStadlen) July 30, 2021
Aside from the strain of professional cricket, Stokes lost his father last December at the age of 65 when he passed away following a short battle with brain cancer.