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Ben Stokes takes mental health break; Kumar Sangakkara and others offer support

Prior to Stokes, Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles had also opted out of games to focus on their mental well-being

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
August 1, 2021 6:30:54 pm
Ben Stokes, Kumar SangakkaraAshley Giles, managing director of England Men's Cricket, said, "Ben has shown tremendous courage to open up about his feelings and well-being." (Source: BCCI File)

England men’s all-rounder cricketer Ben Stokes has taken an indefinite break from all forms of cricket with immediate effect, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said in a statement.

“Stokes has withdrawn from England’s Test squad ahead of the LV= Insurance Test series against India starting next week to prioritise his mental well-being and to rest his left index finger, which has not fully healed since his return to competitive cricket earlier this month,” ECB said.

Ashley Giles, managing director of England Men’s Cricket, said, “Ben has shown tremendous courage to open up about his feelings and well-being.”

He further emphasised ECB’s commitment towards their people’s mental health and welfare: “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,” he said.

He underlined the challenging times players go through that affect their mental health, saying, “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 well-being.”

Former Sri Lanka cricketer Kumar Sangakkara reacted to Stokes’ mental health leave and said players could “only deal with so much”.

In a conversation with Sky Sports, he said, “It must be a very, very tough time for Ben and his family. It won’t be a decision made easy, but brings into focus the level elite players play at — your coping mechanism can only deal with so much.”

“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,” he added.

Highlighting the mental health concerns among athletes, he said, “We have had a host of elite athletes who have spoken about mental well-being 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.”

Prior to Stokes, Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles had also opted out from their respective games to focus on their mental well-being.

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