Saying goodbye to my dad was hard – but I am returning to cricket with his blessing

Ben with his family before flying to play in the IPL (Image: stokesy/Instagram)

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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.

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.

When I got out of quarantine in Auckland, the first week was all about seeing dad and catching up with family, but things were up in the air and there was no plan about how things would pan out.

I didn't know what dad wanted, I didn't know what mum wanted so to start that conversation off was the hardest thing of all.

Ben will play with the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL
(Image: stokesy/Instagram)

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And then mum made it simple, she said: “The time you are spending here now with your dad is so much more important than the time you will spend when the worst happens.”

That is a tough thing to hear, but when it comes from your mum and your dad is reinforcing that message, then it makes things a lot easier to deal with.

My dad was also very strong on the responsibilities I have. 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 and then I'll be heading home to Clare and the kids.

When I was there I was able to leave cricket behind completely for five weeks. I would just wake up and be useful. That meant looking after dad when mum went to work.

We got into a nice routine. I would sit with dad for a bit, watch some TV and then I'd take him out to his favourite coffee shop in Barrington Mall.

Ben batting for England earlier this year
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

It was great getting out, but he gets tired quite easily so we'd head home and relax for a bit and then in the afternoon we'd go to the park across the road and feed the ducks and get some more fresh air.

In between, dad would get quite a few visitors from back in his old rugby league days and it was great to sit with them and hear the old stories about when they were playing and what dad was like. That was pretty cool. Times have definitely changed.

It is that support network of family and friends that my mum and dad have got around them that gives me the peace of mind to know they have everything they need.

It has been amazing to see how people rally round each other in times like this. The support I've had from team-mates and others I work with has just been incredible and utterly appreciated.

With everything that has gone on this year I think what I will remember most is the way people have worked together or gone out on a limb to try and help others, on and off the field.

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