Ben Stokes 'didn't sleep for a week' after father's brain cancer diagnosis

Ben Stokes said he had no choice but to leave the England team during its recent test series against Pakistan after learning of his 64-year-old father’s diagnosis.

Ben Stokes and family

Gerard Stokes, a former New Zealand rugby league player, was admitted to hospital in Johannesburg ahead of England's Boxing Day Test with South Africa last year. The cancer diagnosis was made on his return to New Zealand.   -  Instagram @Stokesy

England all-rounder Ben Stokes' father Gerard has said he was diagnosed with brain cancer in January after a trip to South Africa to watch his son play in the four-Test series.

Gerard, a former New Zealand rugby league player, was admitted to hospital in Johannesburg ahead of England's Boxing Day Test with South Africa last year. The cancer diagnosis was made on his return to New Zealand.

“They (doctors) had to assess how I travelled and from that they discovered I had a couple of tumours on my brain,” the 64-year-old told the New Zealand Herald newspaper.

“So, basically brain cancer. How that came about nobody knows but obviously I've had a few bangs on my head through my life so that's probably contributed to it.”

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Ben, who missed England's final two test matches against Pakistan at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton earlier this month, travelled to New Zealand citing family reasons.

“I didn't sleep for a week and my head wasn't really in it,” the 29-year-old England vice-captain told the Herald. “Leaving (the team) was the right choice from a mental point of view.”

Ben was aware his father was seriously ill when he made 120 against South Africa in the third Test at Port Elizabeth, which England won by an innings and 53 runs.

When Stokes made a century against the West Indies in Manchester this year, he celebrated with a three-finger salute. The gesture is a tribute to his father who, during his playing days, sought to have a dislocated finger amputated to allow him to resume playing sooner.

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"His reputation sort of speaks for itself,” Ben said. “You speak to anyone who knows him, played with him or worked with him, they’d all say the same thing.

"Most people acquire a softer side with age and sometimes with Dad that has been quite weird to see. What he’s going through has brought that side out as well. We all knew he had it, he just didn’t show it often.” he added.

Ben said his father has had a strong influence on his career. "He was tough. But as I got older I realised it was all for a reason. He knew I wanted to be a professional sportsman and he was drilling that into me as I started to make a career in cricket,” he said.

(With inputs from AP)

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