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Sports News

Stokes says ill father backed his decision to return to cricket

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - Second Test - England v West Indies - Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - July 20, 2020 England's Ben Stokes celebrates after winning the test, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Jon Super/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - England all-rounder Ben Stokes has said he had his family’s blessing to return to action in the Indian Premier League with the Rajasthan Royals after taking compassionate leave to visit his father, who is ill with brain cancer.

Stokes travelled from his father’s home in New Zealand to Dubai on Saturday and is currently in quarantine ahead of meeting up with his new team to continue their campaign in the IPL, which began in September and ends in November.

“Sitting in a hotel room in quarantine once again after leaving New Zealand is not how I thought I would be arriving at the IPL, but here I am and all things considered, I’m in a good place,” Stokes wrote in a column for British newspaper The Mirror on Tuesday.

“Saying goodbye to my dad, my mum and my brother in Christchurch was tough. It has been a difficult time for us as a family, but we’ve pulled together and supported each other as best we can.”

“And I was able to get on the plane with my parents’ love and blessing after we reached the decision, for me to get back playing, as a family with no external influences.”

Stokes took a five-week break from cricket to visit his family in Christchurch and help care for his father, who he said had eventually encouraged him to get back to playing.

“My dad was very strong on the responsibilities I have. He told me I have a duty to do the job that I do and I have a duty as a husband and father as well,” Stokes added.

“We gave it all a lot of thought and talked it over at length, and we came to a decision that now sees me back focusing on the game.”

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis

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