BEN STOKES has revealed he suffered panic attacks while sitting on the toilet in his room at the England team hotel.
His agent says Stokes was in tears and struggling for breath while team-mate Stuart Broad questioned whether he would ever play again.
The full impact of new Test captain Stokes’ battles with mental health are detailed in a new behind-the-scenes documentary.
Stokes took a break from cricket last year to prioritise his mental health after a tumultuous few years which culminated in the death of his father Ged and suffering a chronic and painful finger injury.
His roller-coaster of emotions included a high-profile court case following a fight outside a Bristol nightclub – he was cleared of affray in 2018 – and the highs of 2019 when England won the World Cup and Stokes played one of the greatest Ashes innings.
Stokes said in a trailer for Ben Stokes: Phoenix from the Ashes (Amazon Prime): “I never thought I would feel like I do now.
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“My anxiety has gone through the roof. You’re sat on your toilet in your hotel room and you’re having a massive panic attack.”
His words are heard alongside pictures of his face contorted with pain as his finger is treated and images of his dad.
Every time Stokes scores a century, he raises his hand with his finger curled inwards as a tribute to Ged Stokes, a former rugby league player who had a finger amputated in an attempt to extend his career.
Stokes added: “My dad was sick for long time, it was terminal brain cancer. I have gone through my career fearing failure. Rather than fearing failure, embrace it.”
Stokes’ agent, former England batsman Neil Fairbrother, is heard in the trailer saying: “He was in tears, he couldn’t get his words out, he was struggling for breath.”
Broad added: “I could have seen him never playing again.”
And ex-skipper Joe Root, one of Stokes’ closest friends, insisted: “Not many people get to see the best side of him but I’m just very grateful that I have.”
Durham fast bowler and team-mate Mark Wood, who has known Stokes since he was 14, revealed: “Early on his career, he got the nickname the Beast. He just keeps going on and on.”
Interviews were conducted by award-winning film director and cricket fan Sam Mendes.
Stokes said when he was appointed Test captain that he can use his experiences to be a caring and empathetic leader.
And new red-ball head coach Brendon McCullum is certain the pair can form an effective relationship.
McCullum told the ECB website: “I had the luxury of playing against Stokesy and I’ve admired him from afar – his tough character and the type of cricket he plays.
“He is uncompromising but he seems like an immensely loyal person. And the style of cricket he likes to play certainly lines up with the way I like to play.
“Stokes will be a fine leader for us because he’ll be a ‘follow me’ type of guy. He’ll go over the wall first and take on the opposition. That’s exciting for a coach to have a captain like that.”
- Ben Stokes: Phoenix from the Ashes, directed by Chris Grubb and Luke Mellows, will be screened exclusively on Amazon Prime Video later this year.