Ben Stokes to step back from all cricket immediately 'to prioritise his mental wellbeing’

ITV News Correspondent Martha Fairlie reports on Ben Stokes' announcement that he will take a break from cricket to prioritise his mental well-being

Cricketer Ben Stokes is taking an indefinite break from all cricket with immediate effect "to prioritise his mental wellbeing", the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced.

The allrounder, who is currently playing for the Northern Superchargers in The Hundred, was an integral part of the England team which won the 2019 World Cup.

It was confirmed Stokes has withdrawn from the squad to face India in the upcoming Test series for his mental wellbeing and rest his injured finger.

Stokes is an important member of the England squad in all formats. Credit: PA

Stokes' announcement comes following similar decisions from tennis player Naomi Osaka and gymnast Simone Biles in order to aid their mental health.

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.”

Craig Overton will replace Stokes in the England Test squad to face India.

Stokes had only recently returned to fitness after surgery on a finger injury forced him to miss three months at the start of the season.

The allrounder's father died in December last year following a short battle with brain cancer.

Stokes missed the majority of last summer's Test series against Pakistan in order to be with his father in New Zealand.