With Wimbledon just weeks away, Osaka ignited a global conversation about athletes and mental health.
England all-rounder Ben Stokes has taken an indefinite break from all cricket with immediate effect to prioritise his mental wellbeing and continue his recovery from an injury to his left index finger, the country’s cricket board (ECB) said.
Stokes, 30, has withdrawn from England’s test squad for next week’s series against India and will be replaced by Craig Overton.
“The England and Wales Cricket Board can confirm that Ben Stokes will take an indefinite break from all cricket with immediate effect,” said a statement from the governing body on Friday.
“Stokes has withdrawn from England’s Test squad ahead of the Test series against India starting next week to prioritise his mental wellbeing and to rest his left index finger, which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,” it added.
The ECB said it fully supported his decision and it would “continue to help him during this period away from the game”.
“Ben has shown tremendous courage to open up about his feelings and wellbeing,” Ashley Giles, England’s director of men’s cricket, said in a statement.
“Our primary focus has always been and will continue to be the mental health and welfare of all of our people.
“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.”
Stokes missed two of England’s tests against Pakistan last summer after taking a five-week break from cricket to visit his family in Christchurch and help care for his father, who died in December after a year-long battle with brain cancer.
Stokes has struggled with a finger injury throughout the summer and missed England’s home test series against New Zealand in June after suffering a fracture while playing for the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League in April.
He returned to competitive action ahead of schedule earlier this month for Durham in the Vitality Blast after a COVID-19 outbreak in their second team led to an availability crisis.
In similar circumstances, Stokes then captained a second-string England team to a 3-0 one-day series win against Pakistan.
Stokes most recently played for the Northern Superchargers in The Hundred. The five-test series between England and India starts on August 4 at Trent Bridge.
His decision came just days after American superstar gymnast Simone Biles pulled out of two events at the Tokyo Olympics to also protect her mental health.