Ben Stokes takes indefinite break from cricket to focus on mental well-being

EXCLUSIVE The all-rounder will pull out of the India Test series and step away from the sport after an emotional few years

Ben Stokes will captain a newly selected England XI

Ben Stokes has pulled out of the India Test series to take an indefinite break from cricket.

The star all rounder and Mirrorsport columnist has taken the decision to leave the game for a time in order to prioritise his mental well-being following several years of emotional highs and lows.

Stokes also needs to further look after his left index finger which continues to cause him huge amounts of pain despite having healed after surgery.

It is though the need to step away from the game ahead of the biggest contest of the summer that will stun cricket fans who had hoped to see the 30-year-old back in whites for the first time since the winter.

Instead Stokes will now be supported by the ECB in having a complete break as he works his way through the mental turmoil that is currently stopping him from playing his best cricket.

It is hoped that Stokes will be available once more during the winter with the Ashes and the T20 World Cup still an important focus, but not before his own mental health.

Stokes has used his Mirrorsport column in the past to reveal the stresses and strains that bubble life has had on him and his teammates.

And he has specifically praised the ECB for their stance on the issue such as when players were given time back at home during last winter.

But even though he missed the Sri Lanka series at the start of the year, the cumulative effect of the things he has been through have taken their toll.

“Just because we are in nice hotels and are well paid doesn’t mean we don’t go through the same stresses and strains as everyone else,” said Stokes.

“We are all human and our mental well-being is very important. The ECB are right to look after their players as best they can.”

Over the past four years Stokes’ life has been a rollercoaster of emotion from the difficulties endured during a court case in the fallout from a night out in Bristol to the highs of winning the 50 over World Cup at a sellout Lord’s in 2019.

He had further moments of extraordinary brilliance on the cricket field such at at Headingley in the Ashes in 2019 and at Cape Town in 2020.

However that performance under Table Mountain came against the backdrop of his father Ged falling ill while in South Africa to watch him.

Stokes took time out of the game in 2020 to stay with his dad in New Zealand and help nurse him during his battle with brain cancer before he sadly passed away in December.

All the while Stokes has put himself through bubble after bubble trying to get back on the field for the teams he plays for such as the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL after leaving his dad.

It was for them in April’s edition that he broke his finger catching Chris Gayle, a further issue to deal with that is still causing him pain.

Others would not have rushed back to play for their county or their country as Stokes did in situations of need, but that is his nature.

Each and every time Stokes is putting others and his teams first. Now he is taking the time to put himself and his family first.

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