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Ben Stokes to take indefinite break from all cricket to 'prioritise his mental well-being'

·2-min read

Ben Stokes has announced he is to take an "indefinite" break from all forms of cricket to "prioritise his mental well-being".

The 30-year-old all-rounder will initially miss the upcoming Test series against India in a move fully supported by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

Managing director of England Men's Cricket, Ashley 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."

Stokes will be replaced by Craig Overton in the Test squad for the series against India that starts next week.

Stokes took a period of compassionate leave between August and October last year to be with his father Ged, who died in December.

He was rested for two Tests in Sri Lanka in January and missed the home Test series against New Zealand in June after breaking his finger in the Indian Premier League in April.

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Former England star Kevin Pietersen told Sky Sports: "He's a fabulous cricketer - one of the best in the world at the moment.

"From my side I hope he's okay. He obviously lost his dad. There's a lot of things that have happened to Ben Stokes in the last couple of years.

"I don't want to comment too much on it because we don't know what the issue is, however all I know is that I want him to be okay."

Mental health in elite sport has hit the headlines in recent days with US gymnast Simone Biles pulling out of two Olympic finals in Tokyo due to concerns.

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Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka cited pressure as one of the factors in her defeat to world number 42 Marketa Vondrousova in the Games.

She had recently taken time out of the sport to focus on her mental well-being.

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