Star all-rounder Ben Stokes will not be a part of England’s squad for the five-match India series, starting from August 4 as he has decided to take an ‘indefinite break’ from all forms of cricket to focus on his mental health.
Stokes is the latest high-profile name from the sporting world to have taken a break to work on their mental health. Recently, the likes of Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles withdrew from international competitions due to mental health concerns.
Ashley Giles, director of England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), said that the board ‘fully supports’ Stokes’ decision and that he 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," Giles said. "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 has shown tremendous courage to open up about his feelings and wellbeing."— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 30, 2021
We're all with you, Stokesy ❤️ pic.twitter.com/6HmEzmCxvw
"Ben will be given as long as he needs and we look forward to seeing him playing cricket for England in the future."
Stokes’s cricket calendar last year was extensive, to say the least. He spent most of his time away from home and in bio-secured bubbles. This includes playing for Team Rajasthan in the Indian T20 League. Furthermore, he also lost his father to brain cancer in December. Apart from that, he also struggled with a finger injury which took more time to heal than expected. That was followed by a stint with Durham in the Vitality Blast.
"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,” Sri Lanka great Kumar Sangakkara told Sky Sports.
With Ben Stokes out of the India series, England have named Craig Overton as his replacement. His absence will certainly be missed as England host India for the five-match Test series. The matches will be a part of the World Test Championship 2021-23.
Featured photo: AFP / Jewel Samad