Ben Stokes has said he would swap all of his achievements in cricket in 2019 for his father’s good health.
Stokes was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list after playing a crucial role in England’s World Cup victory before scoring a remarkable match-winning Ashes century against Australia at Headingley.
The 28-year-old all-rounder was also named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in December.
Statement: Ben Stokes
— England and Wales Cricket Board (@ECB_cricket) December 24, 2019
But his father Ged Stokes was only released from intensive care in Johannesburg this week following a serious illness, which led to his son missing training with England during the ongoing tour of South Africa.
“At the end of the most memorable of years I am finding it quite hard to sum up 2019 right now,” Stokes wrote in his column for the Daily Mirror.
“There have been some unbelievable highs, and some real lows, but to see out the year with my dad in hospital has put things into perspective.
“If someone could say, ‘I’ll take everything away from you that happened this summer, but your dad is happy, healthy and watching you play cricket’, then I’d say, ‘Yeah, swap it’.
“Thankfully where he is now to where he was when he went in has been an unbelievable turnaround, but he’s got a way to go.”
Stokes thanked the doctors who have treated his father, and added: “If there is a positive to take it is that we were all together to get through it as a family.
“The idea was for the family to spend Christmas together because we hadn’t done that for seven years.
“It might have been in a hospital room but we were all together on Christmas Day, and now we’re just glad that he is making progress.”
England lost the opening Test by 107 runs in Centurion after a number of players suffered with illness during the build up.
“We’ve nicknamed it ‘The Cursed Tour’ so far because it wasn’t a great time for us in terms of trying to build up to an important Test series,” Stokes wrote.
“We’ve had the illnesses moving through the camp and then for me personally with my dad and all the worry that came with it, it was less than ideal preparation for trying to perform at the highest level…
“It was the dodgiest changing room I’ve ever been in and at one stage during the first Test I thought we were going to have to get an emergency order of toilet paper in Centurion, it was that bad.
“But there was no complaining, guys just got on with it and went into quarantine where necessary.”
The second Test against South Africa starts in Cape Town on Friday.