Nasser Hussain has used the example of Ben Stokes’ retirement from ODIs to comment on the jam-packed cricket schedule which has become the norm, stating it is unsustainable for any multi-format players in the long run. He went on to thank Stokes and explain why he must have came to the conclusion.
Ben Stokes in his typical style dropped an unexpected announcement on a calm Monday morning, sending the cricketing fraternity into a frenzy. The 31-year-old announced that the first ODI against South Africa at his home Durham in a week’s time would be his left wearing the England colours, putting down his retirement to the inability to give his all in the 50-over format.
The hectic schedule is highlighted in the fact that in the recently concluded visit by India, England played a Test, three T20Is and as many ODIs in the span of just 17 days. That comes to 11 days of intense cricketing action, distributed across six days of rest. Former cricketer and renowned expert Nasser Hussain expressed disappointment over the decision but seemed to understand the thought behind it.
"It is disappointing news, to say the least, but it is a reflection of where the cricketing schedule is at the moment. It is madness for players," Nasser Hussain told Sky Sports.
"Half the reasons [for his retirement] will be physical, and half will be mental, and mental in Ben's case is the fact he can't do things at 70, 80%. He's not just going to be a bit-part player, he has to do it full on and he's not willing to do it unless he does it 100 per cent,” he added.
During the course of the pandemic, Stokes had come out publicly to address his mental health issues and take a hiatus from the sport to help with the same. A fiercely intense sportsman, who Virat Kohli hailed as ‘the most competitive bloke’ he had played against, the all-rounder was never going to be satisfied playing at anything lower than the absolute limit.
"In a way, I respect him immensely for making that decision because that's how you want every England cricketer to turn up, giving it everything every single day," Hussain expressed.
Stokes has played 104 ODIs in his career over an 11-year period. He had made himself unavailable for selection in the format not so long ago with the recent ODI series in India being his first match in exactly a year. The 31-year-old was recently made captain of the England Test side after Joe Root stepped down and continues to be a key member of the T20 side. Regardless of the great things he goes on to achieve, Ben's greatest legacy would undoubtedly be his role in driving England to their first-ever World Cup triumph in 2019.
"I guess it's the schedule. The cricketing schedule is absolutely crazy at the moment. If you just play in the one format - say Test matches - it's absolutely fine. But if you're a multi-format, multi-dimensional player, and even a Test Match captain like Ben Stokes, who throws himself into his job 100% on and off the field, eventually something's going to have to give, and it looks like for Ben it is 50-over cricket which is a real shame because he gave us and England fans the greatest day for a very long time in 2019, a day we'll never forget with that World Cup final," Hussain concluded on the matter.