'It must be a very, very tough time' - Kumar Sangakkara supports Ben Stokes over mental health break

England team managing director Ashley Giles has offered his support as well.

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Kumar Sangakkara and Ben Stokes
Kumar Sangakkara and Ben Stokes. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

On Friday, talismanic England all-rounder Ben Stokes announced that he will be taking an indefinite break from all forms of cricket to concentrate on mental well-being. The 30-year-old is the latest player to have taken a break with regards to prioritizing health and stepping away from the constant pressure from the game.

He conveyed his decision to the England Cricket Board (ECB) and he won’t feature in the team’s five-match Test series against India starting on August 4. Former Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara feels players could ‘only deal with so much’ as the England all-rounder wanted to concentrate on his health more.

Stokes had to take this tough decision due to his persistent trouble and pressure on his left index finger. For that very reason, the all-rounder made himself unavailable for the team’s limited-overs series against Pakistan. But due to eight England members suffering from COVID-19, the original players chosen to play the six white-ball games were told to isolate.

Stokes had to be called upon by the ECB and he was the captain of the side. Considering the cricket being played has totally changed due to COVID-19 norms and other bio-bubble restrictions, mental health and wellbeing have become very important.

As soon as Stokes made this decision, England team managing director Ashley Giles offered to support Stokes and felt consistently playing in a tight bio-bubble environment and various COVID-19 protocols are very challenging and at times taxing too.

Kumar Sangakkara empathizes with Ben Stokes

Meanwhile, Sangakkara told Sky Sports, “It must be a very, very tough time for Ben and his family. It won’t be a decision made easily but (it) brings into focus the level elite players play at — your coping mechanism can only deal with so much.”

“A lot of time away from home, in bubbles, restrictions in terms of freedom of movement, then the added pressures of performing at such a high level in the public eye.”

Stokes’s unavailability will be a big jolt for England during the India series due to the impact he has created with both bowling and batting departments of the game. With points at stake in the new World Test Championship Cycle (WTC), England certainly will feel the heat.

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