Ben Stokes, ICC World Test Championship
Ben Stokes (Image Credit: Twitter)

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), on Friday, announced the star all-rounder Ben Stokes has withdrawn from England‘s squad for the first two Tests against India in the 5-Test series starting next week and will take “an indefinite break from all cricket” to focus on his mental wellbeing while also continuing his recovery from a finger injury.

Ben Stokes had spent a major portion of last year away from his family, living in the bio-bubbles of Test and white-ball England side and for a few weeks in India during the IPL 2021 before he returned home with a finger injury. He has also been dealing with the passing away of his father, Ged, last year in New Zealand after suffering from brain cancer.
England vs Pakistan 1st ODI 2021
Photo Credit: (Getty Images)
Earlier, the all-rounder was fast-tracked to play for Durham in the Blast due to a Covid-19 outbreak in their second XI squad. Ben Stoke then was called up to captain a second-string England team against Pakistan in an ODI series, which the hosts won 3-0, after the originally picked squad was hit by the virus.

Your coping mechanism can only deal with so much: Kumar Sangakkara

Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara has spoken in support of Ben Stokes. He reckoned it would be a tough time for the all-rounder, and this decision to skip an important series against India would have been difficult to take. However, he said that with the demands of the game and the toll on the physical and mental health of a player in the bio-bubble, Ben Stokes made the right call for himself.

“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,” Kumar Sangakkara told Sky Sports.

“A lot of time away from home, in bubbles, restrictions in terms of freedom of movement, then the added pressures of performing at such a high level in the public eye.”

Kumar Sangakkara
Kumar Sangakkara. Image-Getty.

Recently, renowned players Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles had also spoken on mental health after withdrawing from elite international events.

 “We’ve had a host of elite athletes who’ve spoken about mental wellbeing and the effects of Covid and the pressure around it, and of course pressure in the limelight, that have led to them making some very tough decisions,” Sangakkara added.

England will be significantly weakened in the absence of Ben Stokes – they lost to New Zealand last month without the all-rounder. Somerset’s Craig Overton has been announced as Stokes’ replacement.

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