Ben Stokes returns to cricket with family's 'love and blessing' following father's illness
Cricketer took five-week leave in New Zealand but has linked up with Rajasthan
Ben Stokes says that his return to cricket comes with the "love and blessing" of his family, after linking up with his Rajasthan Royals team-mates in the UAE to take part in the IPL.
Stokes was granted indefinite leave during England's Test series against Pakistan in August, after his father Ged was diagnosed with brain cancer, and has spent the past five weeks in New Zealand.
However, he flew into the UAE late last week, having returned to training in Christchurch prior to that, and could be ready to feature in Rajasthan's next fixture, against Kings XI in Sharjah on Friday, once he's completed his mandatory six-day quarantine.
"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 his column for The Mirror.
"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 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 days as a professional rugby league player 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."
Stokes senior, 64, first fell ill while watching his son in action on England's tour of South Africa over Christmas. He was hospitalised for five weeks in Johannesburg, and was subsequently diagnosed on his return to New Zealand.
He played one rugby league Test for New Zealand in 1982, and moved to England with his family after his playing days, when he was appointed coach of Workington Town in 2003.