Ged Stokes, father of Ben, dies after cancer battle, aged 65
Former New Zealand rugby league international emigrated with family to Cumbria in 2003
Ged Stokes, the former New Zealand rugby league international and father of England allrounder Ben, has died at the age of 65 after a year-long battle with brain cancer.
The news was announced by Ged Stokes' former rugby league club, Workington Town, for whom he played one season in 1982-83, before returning as coach in 2003, when the family, including 12-year-old Ben, emigrated from New Zealand to Cumbria.
"It is with great sadness that we learn our former player and coach Ged Stokes has passed away," the club wrote in a tribute on Twitter. "Ged is written into the rich fabric of Town history and will be greatly missed.
"Our thoughts are with Deb, Ben and James. Ged still has many, many friends here in West Cumbria and we send our thoughts to them too."
The news comes almost 12 months after Ged first fell ill with brain cancer, during England's Test tour of South Africa in December 2019. In the wake of his diagnosis, Ben was granted indefinite leave to spend time with his family in New Zealand during England's Test series against Pakistan in August.
He returned to cricket in October after missing the opening rounds of Rajasthan Royals' IPL campaign, with the "love and blessing" of his family, and went on to feature in the three-match T20I leg of England's tour of South Africa, before flying home last week ahead of the postponed ODIs.
"Saying goodbye to my dad, my mum and my brother in Christchurch was tough," Stokes wrote in October in his column in the Daily Mirror. "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."
Ben Stokes has often cited the influence of his father throughout his playing career, and regularly dedicates his on-field milestones to him with a three-fingered salute, in recognition to the finger amputation that Ged underwent during his rugby league days in New Zealand.
"My dad was very strong on the responsibilities I have," Stokes added. "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.
"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."