Ben Stokes: England men’s Test captain says he believes mental health break will help him lead team | UK News


England’s new Test captain Ben Stokes believes the mental health break he took from cricket puts him in a stronger position to lead the side. 

The all-action, all-rounder was named captain after Joe Root stood down last month following disappointing tours to Australia and most recently the West Indies.

Stokes, 30, took an “indefinite break” from cricket last July to “prioritise his mental wellbeing” before making a comeback in the Ashes series over the winter.

At his introduction to the media as England captain at his home ground at Chester Le Street in Durham, he said: “There’s always a negative feeling around mental health but I took my break, went and spoke with people, went and spoke with someone and I will continue to do that.

“I see it as a positive that me being in this role now having gone through what I went through last summer and even before that, I’ve got a huge amount of experience in what the game and what life can throw at you.

“I don’t see any of this as a negative whatsoever – I just see it as a huge positive that I’ll be able to relate to a lot of different scenarios that cricket, and life, can throw at you while being a professional cricketer.”

The hectic calendar of domestic and international cricket as well as life within COVID bubbles to fulfil fixtures during the pandemic has put a strain on many cricketers, particularly those, like Stokes, with young families.

In 2017 he also stood trial for affray after a late night street brawl in Bristol. A jury though cleared him of all charges – a moment in his life when he knew his career hung in the balance.

He said: “It did look like that my career was going to be over but every decision or every experience that I’ve been through, I’ve learned from.

“It’s how you handle those and how you can come back from them, and I feel like I’ve come back from every down moment pretty well.”

Joe Root and Ben Stokes (Associated Press)
Joe Root (left) and Ben Stokes (right). Pic: AP

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After his court case Stokes rebuilt his career with Durham and England and was the standout candidate after Joe Root’s decision to step down as Test captain.

As much as Stokes admires the great England all rounders and leaders that have gone before him, he is determined that he wants to mould his team in his own way.

“I’ve had to live with the tag of Andrew Flintoff and Sir Ian Botham since I was 18 but I’ve always maintained I’ve never tried to be Andrew Flintoff or Sir Ian Botham”, he said.

“I’m Ben Stokes,” he said, with the look of a man who wants to get on with the job.

He will lead England out at Lord’s against New Zealand on 2 June.


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