Stokes’ fa­ther in ‘crit­i­cal con­di­tion’ in Johannesbu­rg

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT -

BEN Stokes’ fa­ther Ged is in ‘a crit­i­cal con­di­tion’ in a Johannesbu­rg hos­pi­tal, with the Eng­land all­rounder at his bed­side.

The Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board an­nounced that the for­mer rugby league player was taken in with a ‘se­ri­ous ill­ness’ on Mon­day.

Stokes was due to join his team­mates in a Christmas Eve train­ing ses­sion in Cen­tu­rion, 45 min­utes north of Johannesbu­rg, but was in­stead with his fam­ily.

It is not yet known whether the newly-crowned BBC Sports Per­son­al­ity of the Year, who lit up 2019 with un­for­get­table per­for­mances in the World Cup and the Ashes, will be in a po­si­tion to take the field at Su­per­Sport Park to­day.

An ECB state­ment read: “Ben Stokes’s fa­ther, Ged, was ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal on Mon­day in Johannesbu­rg af­ter suf­fer­ing a se­ri­ous ill­ness. He re­mains in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

“The all-rounder will not be at Eng­land’s train­ing ses­sion at Su­per­Sport Park this af­ter­noon so that he can be at his fa­ther’s bed­side. The Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board, with the sup­port of Ben and his fam­ily, re­quest that the me­dia and pub­lic re­spect Ben and his fam­ily’s pri­vacy at this time.”

Stokes senior, 64, played one rugby league Test for New Zealand in 1982 and first moved to Eng­land as a player with Work­ing­ton Town.

He later coached the team, as well as White­haven, and it was in Cum­bria that his son be­gan to show his ap­ti­tude for cricket.

Ged, whose full name is Ger­ard, now lives just out­side Christchur­ch with Stokes’ mother Deb.

The cou­ple were over­joyed by their son’s World Cup hero­ics and even ap­peared on Good Morn­ing Bri­tain via vide­olink the day af­ter the historic win at Lord’s, where they were in­ter­viewed by Piers Mor­gan.

Eng­land cap­tain Joe Root, speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence, said: “It puts things in per­spec­tive. We’re here to play good, hard cricket but it’s im­por­tant as a squad that we want Ben and his fam­ily to have all the sup­port they can get.

“I want to stress the im­por­tance of re­spect­ing his pri­vacy. All the play­ers and squad want to show Ben our sup­port. What’s most im­por­tant is we sup­port him and his fam­ily. It’s cru­cial that comes first.”

Eng­land will al­low Stokes what­ever free­dom he needs ahead of the Test match and will re­jig their team as nec­es­sary if he is un­able to fea­ture.

The se­lec­tion pic­ture was al­ready cloudy, with un­cer­tainty over Jofra Archer’s fit­ness fol­low­ing a week­long sick­ness bug. Sam Curran is the clos­est to a like-for-like deputy to Stokes, as an au­then­tic all-rounder, but Eng­land may also be tempted to re­call Jonny Bairstow as a spe­cial­ist bats­man given Stokes’ key role at num­ber five.

And in a fur­ther se­lec­tion worry, Eng­land con­firmed that Chris Woakes has gone down with an ill­ness.

“We’ve had a bit of bad news with Woakesy go­ing down ill, he won’t be train­ing (on Tues­day),” Root said. “We’ll see how that un­folds. It’s quite frus­trat­ing.

“We’ll have to wait and see. We’ll make a very late call on our side.”

Eng­land’s Ben Stokes

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