England v India Tests - Men
Stokes taking 'indefinite break' from cricket
England allrounder to skip India series as he steps back from all cricket, citing mental health and issues with an injury to his finger
31 July 2021, 07:12 AM AEST
England superstar Ben Stokes "will take an indefinite break from all cricket with immediate effect".
The 30-year-old allrounder will play no part in the forthcoming Test series against India in a bid to safeguard his mental health and rest his injured finger, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Friday.
An ECB statement read: "The England and Wales Cricket Board can confirm that England men's all-rounder Ben Stokes will take an indefinite break from all cricket with immediate effect.
"Stokes has withdrawn from England's Test squad ahead of the Test series against India starting next week to prioritise his mental wellbeing and to rest his left index finger, which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 fully supports Ben's decision and we will continue to help him during this period away from the game."
The ECB confirmed Stokes would be replaced in the England squad by Somerset's Craig Overton.
England managing director Ashley Giles said Stokes had the ECB's full support and would be given "as long as he needs" to make a full recovery.
Giles said: "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.
"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."
Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen was among those wishing Stokes well and hoping he'll return and prosper after his break.
Pietersen told Sky Sports: "I hope he's OK – he's a fabulous cricketer, one of the best in the world at the moment.
"He obviously lost his dad, there are a lot of things that have happened to Ben Stokes in the last couple of years. All I know is I want him to be OK."
Former Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara added: "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.
"Different individuals deal with things differently, some are able to cope with it and some aren't and over time you can reach a point where you need a break.
"But the real fact is that he has to be OK, he needs the support of good people around him and is back as soon as possible."
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will make player and staff welfare the "main priority" as it discusses provisional plans to visit Australia for the upcoming Vodafone Ashes series.
England players have raised concerns in recent weeks amid the uncertainty surrounding the ability for families to travel to Australia and the bio-security restrictions likely to be in place for the tour.
England allrounder Ben Stokes has taken an "indefinite break" from cricket to deal with mental health issues, and a finger injury, to put a spotlight on the effects of hotel quarantine and the tight bio-secure environments that cricketers now play under.
With England expected to have bilateral tours to Pakistan and Bangladesh ahead of the T20 World Cup and Ashes, the country's top multi-format players face the prospect of being apart from their families for four months, including over Christmas and New Year.
The ECB, in a joint statement with the Professional Cricketers' Association on Friday, said it had held meetings with the England team to discuss provisional plans for the five-Test series, which is scheduled to begin on December 8 in Brisbane.
"All parties are collaborating and will continue to work together to understand protocols around bubble environments, family provision and quarantine rules that will be in place for the tour during the current COVID-19 pandemic," the statement said.
"With player and management's welfare paramount, the ECB will discuss planning and operational requirements with Cricket Australia in the coming weeks and how they seek to implement their policies in partnership with state and federal governments.
"All stakeholders are committed to putting player and staff welfare as the main priority and finding the right solutions that enables the England team to compete with the best players and at the highest possible standard that the Ashes series deserves."
Cricket Australia spokesperson said planning was continuing in line with experiences from last summer, when India – along with several families of players – toured, playing T20 and Test cricket over the summer.
"With the Ashes four months away, we are currently planning the operational requirements of this tour and working with the ECB on the proposed make-up of the England touring party," the CA spokesperson said.
"As was the case last season, CA will work constructively and in partnership with government to deliver the summer of cricket, while ensuring the health, wellbeing and safety of the community."
Vodafone Men's Ashes v England
First Test: December 8-12, The Gabba
Second Test: December 16-20, Adelaide Oval
Third Test: December 26-30, MCG
Fourth Test: January 5-9, SCG
Fifth Test: January 14-18, Perth Stadium