NASSER HUSSAIN: Cricket’s jam-packed international schedule to blame for Ben Stokes’ ODI retirement


NASSER HUSSAIN: Cricket’s jam-packed international schedule is to blame for Ben Stokes’ retirement from ODI cricket… but it is a real shame it’s this format he has given up because of that incredible day at Lord’s in 2019

  • The ICC keep adding their own tournaments and the schedule is jam-packed 
  • The end result of all this is that it has all left the game at breaking point  
  • The all-rounder is an all-format cricketer and is now England Test captain
  • The way he played in the World Cup final showed what an amazing player he is

The issue is not with Ben Stokes, it’s with cricket’s international schedule. You just have to look at the aftermath of Sunday’s one-day international at Old Trafford. 

India were immediately flying off to begin another tour in the Caribbean while England had to head straight to Durham for the start of another 50-over series on Tuesday.

It is just jam-packed. The International Cricket Council keep adding their own tournaments and each board still seem to want a future tours programme full with as much bi-lateral cricket as possible. 

The issue is not with Ben Stokes, rather it’s with cricket’s international schedule

India were immediately flying off to the Caribbean while England headed straight to Durham

India were immediately flying off to the Caribbean while England headed straight to Durham

There are more formats being added and the IPL is getting longer and longer. The end result is that it has all left the game at breaking point.

The support is still there for all this cricket – all games in England this summer have been virtually sold out – the players are well remunerated and we all love to see them across all formats. But the trouble is they are being pushed to their very limits.

It has meant Stokes has had to make this decision. He’s an all-format cricketer and is now England Test captain. He bats, bowls and fields in all formats and throws himself into everything at a hundred miles an hour.

I spotted something that sums it all up during Sunday’s game. Ben clearly has a sore knee and at one point he was at mid-off when Hardik Pandya smashed one past Joe Root at mid-wicket. 

So Stokes, not being able to resist being in the action, waved at Root to say he would swap with him. Two balls later Pandya hit it there and Ben dived to take the catch.

Stokes has got off to a fantastic start as Test captain but at some point there will be a downturn

Stokes has got off to a fantastic start as Test captain but at some point there will be a downturn

The actions leading up to Stokes' catch to dimiss Hardik Pandya on Sunday summed him up

The actions leading up to Stokes’ catch to dimiss Hardik Pandya on Sunday summed him up

Something had to give and it is a real shame it’s the one-day format because Stokes gave us that incredible day three years ago at Lord’s that no England fan will ever forget.

The way he navigated his way through his innings during the World Cup final and then again in the Super Over did so much to win that trophy against New Zealand for England and emphasised what an amazing 50-over cricketer he is.

But he is hobbling with his knee and has to think of the mental demands as well as the physical ones. 

Stokes has got off to a fantastic start as Test captain but at some point there will be a downturn and when there is everything lands at your door as England captain.

The way he played in the 2019 World Cup final emphasised what an amazing 50-over cricketer he is

The way he played in the 2019 World Cup final emphasised what an amazing 50-over cricketer he is

I respect what Ben has done. He could easily have just played at 70 or 80 per cent in some games to get through but he has to be full on and he never wants to hold anyone back. 

I do think I might have tried to convince him to just have a break, miss some bi-lateral cricket and save him for World Cups or big tournaments. 

He could easily have played solely as a batter in 50-over cricket, including in next year’s World Cup in India.

But Stokes is not built like that. He talks about the importance of being selfless and he would consider that a selfish thing to do. 

I do think I might have tried to convince him to just have a break and save him for World Cups

I do think I might have tried to convince him to just have a break and save him for World Cups

He would see it as strolling up for a big event and saying to someone ”thanks very much for keeping my place warm, I’ll take it from here.”

It could be argued that it would have been better for Ben to give up Twenty20 cricket and he may been torn but 50-over games are long days and take a lot out of you. 

Then there’s the IPL and all the other T20 possibilities emerging that he might want to be part of.

Tuesday will be very emotional at Durham even though Stokes will not want it to be all about him. The faithful there will stand to him and thank him for all the memories, for everything he has done for England in 50-over cricket. We will certainly miss him.

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