England’s Ben Stokes must take an indefinite break from all forms of cricket to ‘prioritize his mental well-being,’ the England and Wales Cricket Council said on Friday, with the all-rounder being the last top sports star to move away from competitive pressures.
Stokes withdrew from the England test squad ahead of a five-game series against India from Trent Bridge next week, his place being taken by Craig Overton.
“The England and Wales Cricket Council can confirm that Ben Stokes will take an indefinite hiatus from all cricket with immediate effect,” a statement from the governing body said.
“Stokes has withdrawn from the England Test squad ahead of the Test Series against India starting next week to prioritize his mental well-being and rest his left index finger, which has not fully healed since returning to competitive cricket earlier this month. “
Stokes, 30, rushed to lead England in a one-day international home series against Pakistan after all those initially selected were excluded by a coronavirus outbreak in the hosts’ camp.
The ECB said it fully supports Stokes’ move and will continue to help him while he is away from the game, with their men’s cricket general manager, Ashley Giles, saying: “Ben has shown tremendous courage to s ‘open up about his feelings and his well-being. .
“Our primary focus has always been and will continue to be the mental health and well-being of all of our people. The demands placed on our athletes to prepare for and play elite sport are relentless in a typical environment, but the ongoing pandemic has made that much worse. “
Stokes’ decision comes just days after American superstar gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from two events at the Tokyo Olympics to protect her sanity.
The 24-year-old’s struggles followed those of Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, another face of the Games who lost in the third round upon returning from a sanity break.
Osaka withdrew from Roland Garros after refusing to participate in press conferences, saying they were akin to “kicking people when they are down”.
She also skipped Wimbledon before returning to Tokyo where she lit the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony.
© 2021 AFP