ECB has said that Stokes has taken the break to also rest his left index finger, "which has not fully healed since his return to competitive cricket earlier this month"
London: Star England all-rounder Ben Stokes has taken an indefinite break from the game to “prioritise his mental wellbeing” and withdrawn from the home Test series against India beginning August 4.
In a statement, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has also said that Stokes has taken the break to also rest his left index finger, “which has not fully healed since his return to competitive cricket earlier this month”.
Managing Director of England men’s cricket, Ashley Giles, said the ECB supports Stokes’ decision. “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,” said Giles, also a former England spinner. Being in a protected environment for months has taken a toll on the players, he 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.” Giles added that Stokes will be given all the time he needs to get back to his best shape both physically and mentally.
“Ben will be given as long as he needs, and we look forward to seeing him playing cricket for England in the future,” he said. Craig Overton has replaced Stokes in the England squad for the India series. Stokes’ withdrawal is a major blow to England, who lost to New Zealand at home last month after losing the away series in India in February-March. Mental health of cricketers in COVID times has become a topic of constant discussion with the players having to play in bio-bubbles for months. Ahead of the World Test Championship final against New Zealand last month, India skipper Virat Kohli had made it clear that mental health management will become a norm if cricket is continued to be played in bio-bubbles with players requiring breaks to “disconnect from the game”. Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell is another notable name who has spoken extensively about the need to address mental health issues, having taken a break himself from the game in 2019.