CRICKET hero Ben Stokes has thanked fans for their messages of support while his father - former Town coach Ged Stokes - was in hospital.

Ged was taken to hospital in a critical condition on Monday December 23, leading to an outpouring of fan support.

The former New Zealand rugby league player and coach was in South Africa for England’s Boxing Day Test against Cape Town. But he had to be rushed to a hospital in Johannesburg after falling ill and his son was forced to break away from training to be with his family.

The Stokes family moved to Cockermouth from Christchurch in New Zealand when Ben was 12 and he honed his skills at Cockermouth Cricket Club. Ben’s finest hour came last summer 2019, securing the win for England in the Cricket World Cup and he received an OBE in the 2020 New Year’s Honours List.

Ben thanked fans for their messages in a post to his Facebook page: “We are so grateful.”

He said: “It’s been a very tough few weeks for us all with what has happened to my father Ged. He continues to improve day by day but it’s going to be a slow process for him. But he’s hard as nails and doesn’t like to give in.

He said: “This is to every single person who has taken time to send such lovely messages on social media. Words can’t really express what this means to us but we all just want to say a massive thank you, the love has been very much needed and much appreciated.”