Cricket hero Ben Stokes’ dad is battling brain cancer as star flies to see him

Ged Stokes, father of England cricket star Ben, has revealed he is battling brain cancer.

The former New Zealand rugby league star was diagnosed with the illness in January after returning to New Zealand from South Africa, where he was taken ill over the winter.

Ben Stokes withdrew from England's summer test series with Pakistan to head back to New Zealand and be with his father and arrived back in New Zealand this week.

He is now in isolation due to coronavirus measures and spoke about his decision to leave the England squad for the first time.

"I didn't sleep for a week and my head wasn't really in it," Ben Stokes told the Weekend Herald. "Leaving [the team] was the right choice from a mental point of view."

Ged Stokes, 64, was admitted to hospital in Johannesburg ahead of the Boxing Day test.

He required surgery on a bleed on the brain and has now confirmed further tests when he returned to New Zealand saw him diagnosed with cancer.

"They had to assess how I travelled and from that they discovered I had a couple of tumors on my brain as well," Stokes senior said.

"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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Stokes continued on the tour of South Africa over the winter with his father in a Johannesburg hospital recovering with his wife Deborah by his side.

At the time he said: “It's been a bit of a rollercoaster with everything that's gone on to be honest. I hope the old man's in hospital watching this with a big smile on his face.”

It was only at the conclusion of the tour that Ged was deemed fit enough to travel back to New Zealand where he received his heartbreaking diagnosis.

Stokes celebrated his recent century against the West Indies with a three-finger salute.

The gesture has become a tribute to his dad, who dislocated a finger and asked for it to be amputated in order to speed up his return to playing.

"He was tough [on me]. But as I got older I realised it was all for a reason," Stokes said. "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.

"His reputation sort of speaks for itself. 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 that often."

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