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Ben Stokes taking indefinite break from cricket to 'prioritise mental health'
30 July 2021, 17:47 | Updated: 30 July 2021, 18:22
England cricket star Ben Stokes is taking an "indefinite" break from the sport to "prioritise his mental well-being".
The all-rounder will not be involved in next week's LV= Insurance Test series against India, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed.
He will also use the time to rest his left index finger, which has not fully healed since his return to competitive cricket earlier this month.
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"Stokes has withdrawn from England's Test squad ahead of the LV= Insurance Test series against India starting next week to prioritise his mental wellbeing and to rest his left index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.
"Ben has shown tremendous courage to open up about his feelings and wellbeing."— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 30, 2021
We're all with you, Stokesy ❤️ pic.twitter.com/6HmEzmCxvw
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.
"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."
The ECB asked that Stokes and his family be given privacy during this time.
Ben Stokes is the latest sports hero to announce he is taking a break for mental health reasons.
US gymnastics star Simone Biles withdrew from her second Olympic final in two days on Wednesday in order to "focus on her mental health".
"Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week's individual event finals," added US Gymnastics in a statement.
"We wholeheartedly support Simone's decision and applaud her bravery in prioritising her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many."
In May, Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open following controversy over her decision not to speak to the media, again for mental health reasons.
Prior to that she was fined around £10,000 for refusing to "fulfil her media commitments" after she said she was going to withdraw from doing interviews.