Ben Stokes hit out harshly at the packed cricket schedule after his retirement from ODIs, likening the expectations from cricketers to cars where they can continue to play endlessly. He went on to state his ambitions of playing Test cricket for years and ruled out a comeback for the 2023 World Cup.
Ben Stokes became the latest victim of the current cricket schedule’s tightness, given the all-rounder announced his retirement from ODIs at the ripe age of 31. This isn’t the first time Stokes has had an issue with the amount of cricket being played, having taken frequent rests in previous years as well. In fact, the opening ODI against India earlier this month was the Durhamite’s first in exactly a year and as it turned out, one of his last-ever.
Named England’s Test captain as well a few months ago after Joe Root stepped down from the post, Stokes felt it necessary to sacrifice a format for long-term gains.
"There is too much cricket rammed in for people to play all three formats now. We are not cars, you can't just fill us up and we'll go out there and be ready to be fuelled up again," he said on the BBC Test Match Special.
The veteran ended up with 105 ODIs to his name in 11 years, making his curtain call in the first match of the ODI series against South Africa. Even though he did not contribute much in the game with either bat or ball, Stokes departs with 2,924 runs and 74 wickets to his name. However, the fact that the all-rounder has also played a mammoth 83 Tests in the same time period is a testament to the red-ball being his favourite.
Stokes gave the example of compatriot Stuart Broad, who he admits to having shared his decision with after the first ODI itself against India. The pacer played his last ODI in 2016 but has since worn the all-whites for England 65 Tests and is still going strong at the age of 36. His journey has clearly influenced Stokes, who aims to emulate similar feats.
"Hopefully when I'm still playing at 36 I can look back at this moment and say it was a big reason behind why I'm still able to get out on the park and represent England in Test cricket," he said.
Stokes’ most memorable moment in ODIs came in the final of the ICC World Cup 2019. He came in at a stage when England was ruling during their run-chase versus New Zealand, only to make his nation taste their first ever World Cup glory with an unbeaten 84. However, that was a thing of the past, with Ben effectively ruling out any chances of making a comeback for the ICC World Cup 2023 in India.
"You obviously think about stuff like that but what I don't want to be doing is saying 'Nah, I won't play that' but when an ICC event comes up, 'Yeah'. This gives an amazing opportunity for somebody to come in and get experience and then hopefully go and win that World Cup again like we did in 2019. It wouldn't be fair on anyone who gets that opportunity with me not playing this format now to all of a sudden be like 'Yeah, I'll come back.'"