England cricket star Stokes ‘to take break to focus on mental well-being and rest index finger’ as he follows Osaka & Biles

England cricket star Ben Stokes will take an “indefinite break” from the sport to focus on his mental health. The move follows similar steps by women’s sports stars Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles.

Stokes has pulled out of England's 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 announced in a statement.

"Ben has shown tremendous courage to open up about his feelings and wellbeing," said managing director of England Men's Cricket, Ashley Giles. 

"Our primary focus has always been and will continue to be the mental health and welfare of all of our people," Giles added. 

"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 decision by Stokes - considered one of the finest players in the world at present - follows similar breaks for mental health reasons taken by tennis star Naomi Osaka and US gymnast Simone Biles. 

Both have received widespread support from fans and fellow sports stars, although some such as UK TV personality Piers Morgan have accused them of weakness. 

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After it was announced that Stokes, 30, would take a break some wondered whether he would be subjected to the same treatment from the likes of cricket fan Morgan.

Aside from the strain of professional cricket, Stokes lost his father last December at the age of 65 when he passed away following a short battle with brain cancer. 

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