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Kevin Pietersen hopes Ben Stokes benefits from cricket break

Kevin Pietersen hopes Ben Stokes benefits from cricket break
© Reuters
The 30-year-old England all-rounder is prioritising his mental health.

Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen hopes Ben Stokes can return and prosper after taking a break from the game.

The 30-year-old England all-rounder elected to take some time away from the game ahead of the Test series against India.

Stokes took the decision in a bid to safeguard his mental health and rest the injured finger which caused him to miss the early part of the season.

Pietersen told Sky Sports: "It was quite interesting because when he got asked a question about his finger the other night, his response was not your normal response...it was like there was something more. I hope he's OK – he's a fabulous cricketer, one of the best in the world at the moment.

"He obviously lost his dad, there are a lot of things that have happened to Ben Stokes in the last couple of years. All I know is I want him to be OK."

Former Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara understands the pressure Stokes is under.

He said: "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.

"It's very important to have the support structure around players to support and help them and identify signs very early, so these types of position are supported by very good people around them who can help them through it.

Kumar Sangakkara
Kumar Sangakkara understands life in a bubble can be hard (Martin Rickett/PA)

"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. It's hard to pinpoint what it might be.

"Different individuals deal with things differently, some are able to cope with it and some aren't and over time you can reach a point where you need a break. But the real fact is that he has to be OK, he needs the support of good people around him and is back as soon as possible.

"We've had a host of elite athletes who've spoken about mental wellbeing and the effects of Covid and the pressure around it, and of course pressure in the limelight, that have led to them making some very tough decisions."

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