Stokes withdraws from England squad to be with family in New Zealand

Ben Stokes is out of action for the rest of the Test match summer as he puts his family first.

The England all rounder and Mirror Sport columnist has withdrawn from the squad to play the final two Tests against Pakistan and will instead head off to spend time with his family in New Zealand.

Stokes has had a typically huge impact on the field this summer helping England to a series win over the West Indies, standing in as captain for Joe Root for a Test, and playing his part in the opening win over Pakistan.

But Mirror Sport understands that at the conclusion of the match he informed his team-mates that he would have to support them from afar as he leaves the bio-secure bubble and flies to Christchurch.

In the same way Jos Buttler was able to perform with thoughts on his dad in hospital, it is a testament to Stokes that he was able to focus in on the job in hand and make a difference to the team in Manchester with plenty else on his mind.

Despite the distance, the Stokes family are a close unit and the serious illness suffered by his father Ged, a former rugby league international, in December during the winter tour to South Africa hit them all hard.

While Ben continued on the tour, playing a starring role, his father remained in a Johannesburg hospital recovering with his wife Deborah by his side.

Ben was able to rejoin them when the tour party returned to Jo'Burg for the fourth Test, alternating his time between the hospital and the Wanderers where England completed a 3-1 series win.

At the time he said: “It's been a bit of a rollercoaster with everything that's gone on to be honest. I hope the old man's in hospital watching this with a big smile on his face.”

It was only at the conclusion of the tour that Ged was deemed fit enough to travel back to New Zealand to continue his rehab, as he had done over the past seven months.

Father and son share a strong bond as evidenced by the finger salute Ben gives when he makes a hundred in acknowledgement of the part of a digit Ged had cut off to enable him to continue playing rugby during his career.

It was a typically pragmatic and selfless decision that Ged made, and those two qualities have certainly been passed down.

As much as Stokes will be sorry to leave his team-mates to continue without him, there is no question where the priorities lie. England is important, but family comes first.

Stokes was not available for comment, only asking that his family's privacy is respected at this time.

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