Root on Stokes absence: I just want my friend to be okay

By Sports Desk August 02, 2021

England captain Joe Root is "desperate" for friend and team-mate Ben Stokes "to be okay" after it was announced the all-rounder was taking an indefinite break from cricket.

Following in the footsteps of Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles, Stokes has become the latest elite athlete to step away from sport to prioritise his mental wellbeing.

Stokes had been set to face India in a five-Test series but will instead rest, also giving his injured finger time to heal.

On Monday, skipper Root offered his support to the 30-year-old, whose father died last December following a battle with cancer.

"I had a conversation with Ben and that's when I found out, but that call will stay between the two of us," Root said.

"For me, it was hard to see a friend like that. More than anything, I just want him to be okay

"What was said stays between us two and I think, throughout this, it's important that people respect his privacy and give him the best chance to deal with this in his own way.

"I'm just desperate for him to be okay and I'll be there for him as much as I can be in whatever way he wants."

Having suffered a broken left index finger while playing in the Indian Premier League in April, Stokes was back in action for Durham in June and unexpectedly returned to the international arena last month.

The England vice-captain led a short-handed team to an ODI series whitewash of Pakistan after a coronavirus outbreak saw the original squad stood down.

Now, the England and Wales Cricket Board has promised Stokes "as long as he needs".

Root added: ""From my point of view, I just want my friend to be okay.

"I think that anyone who knows Ben knows that he always puts other people in front of himself and first. And I think now is an opportunity for him to put himself first, to take time to look after himself and to get himself to a good place again.

"Hopefully that can be sooner rather than later and I think cricket has to be a secondary thought down the line and he should take as much time as he needs.

"He's got my full support on that and he can be sure he has the ECB's full support on that and the team's."

The India series begins on Wednesday with the first Test at Trent Bridge.

Related items

  • Steve Smith welcomes 'dangerous' Stokes' Ashes return Steve Smith welcomes 'dangerous' Stokes' Ashes return

    Steve Smith believes the return of "dangerous" England all-rounder Ben Stokes makes for a mouthwatering Ashes series.

    Stokes has not played since July, having taken a break to protect his mental wellbeing while he also recovered from a broken finger.

    The England vice-captain underwent a second operation on his finger but recently posted footage of himself batting and bowling in the nets.

    Stokes was initially omitted from the squad for the tour of Australia, but the England and Wales Cricket Board on Monday announced that he has been added to the squad.

    Australia batsman Smith has welcomed the news that Stokes will be involved, with the Ashes getting under way at The Gabba on December 8.

    "I think any team's more dangerous when you've got someone like Ben Stokes playing," Smith said.

    "It certainly adds a lot to their depth, but like I said we're excited and I'm glad personally that he's able to be back playing some cricket. It makes for a really good series."

     

    Smith has been troubled by an elbow injury, but the former Australia captain does not expect it to be an issue when Tim Paine's side attempt to retain the urn.

    Quoted in the Australian press on Tuesday, Smith said: "I've tried to bat every second day, or not bat three days in a row, just to take a bit of load off. On the days I'm batting, I'm batting for as long as I want to, which is nice.

    "I'm still taking it easy at the moment. I'll build up again as we get closer to playing some longer format stuff. It is in a good place, it feels really good. I'm continuing with my strength work and my rehab stuff – I feel like I'm going well and progressing along nicely, so I've got no real concerns [for the Ashes]."

  • Stokes added to England Ashes squad after recovery from finger injury Stokes added to England Ashes squad after recovery from finger injury

    Ben Stokes has been added to the England squad for the Ashes tour of Australia.

    The Durham all-rounder was omitted from the original selection as he continued his recovery from a second operation on a broken finger.

    Stokes, who sustained the injury while playing in the Indian Premier League in April, announced in July he was taking a break from cricket to protect his mental wellbeing and allow his finger to recover.

    Having been given the all-clear by the medical team of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the 30-year-old will depart for Australia with the Test and Lions squad on November 4.

    "I had a break to prioritise my mental wellbeing and I got my finger sorted," Stokes said.

    "I am looking forward to seeing my mates and being on the field with them. I'm ready for Australia."

     

    Ashley Giles, managing director of England Men's Cricket, said: "Following a very successful operation on his finger and several conversations over the last few weeks between Ben and I, our medical staff and his management team, Ben called me to say he was ready to return to cricket and was excited about the prospect of playing a significant role in the Ashes series.

    "Time and time again, Ben has demonstrated how important he is to the England team and having him available for the Ashes series is excellent news for all of us and, in particular, [coach] Chris [Silverwood], Joe [Root] and the rest of the players.

    "Having not played for some time, we will move forward cautiously over the next few weeks to ensure he is fully prepared across all facets of his game.

    "Ahead of a very busy period of cricket, we continue to remain mindful of the stresses on all our personnel, and our primary focus continues to be the wellbeing of all of our players and support staff."

    The Ashes begins at The Gabba on December 8 and concludes a month later at Optus Stadium in Perth.

    England are looking to regain the urn after it was retained by Australia following a 2-2 series draw in 2019.

  • 24 players selected for BestvBest matches ahead of Sri Lanka tour 24 players selected for BestvBest matches ahead of Sri Lanka tour

    The Cricket West Indies (CWI) Selection Panel announced the squads for the upcoming Best v Best men’s red-ball matches.

    The panel named 24 players for two three-day fixtures, which will be played at the Coolidge Cricket Ground on October 27-29 and November 1-3. The two teams will be led by Kraigg Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood.

    The players will use these matches as preparations ahead of West Indies’ forthcoming tour to Sri Lanka for two Test matches following the ICC T20 World Cup. The team will depart from Antigua on November 6 and the tour will run until December 4. The full tour squad and schedule will be announced at a later date. The series is the second of six series, three at home and three away, that West Indies will play in the 2021-2023 ICC World Test Championship after drawing the first Betway Test Series against Pakistan in August.

     “These Best v Best matches are a critical part of the Test team’s preparation for the series in Sri Lanka. For a number of players, it will be the only serious red ball cricket they will have since the Betway Test series against Pakistan and prior to going on this tour. So, it helps to get them back into the groove of the red-ball format and gives the Selection Panel an indication of the players’ readiness for the tour,” said Lead Selector Roger Harper.

    SQUAD A: Kraigg Brathwaite (Captain), Shamarh Brooks, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Shai Hope, Kyle Mayers, Veerasammy Permaul, Jayden Seales, Preston McSween, Nial Smith and Jeremy Solozano.

     SQUAD B: Jermaine Blackwood (Captain), Nkrumah Bonner, Jahmar Hamilton, Chemar Holder, Kavem Hodge, Alzarri Joseph, Imran Khan, Shayne Moseley, Kieran Powell, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach and Jomel Warrican.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.