Chester-le-Street, United KingdomBen Stokes said on Tuesday he hopes his retirement from one-day internationals will serve as a warning to cricket leaders amid an increasingly crowded global schedule, with the all-rounder insisting that players “are not cars, you can’t just fill us up”.
Stokes was a central figure in England’s 2019 World Cup final, their biggest moment in cricket with 50 left.
But Stokes will make his 105th and final ODI appearance against South Africa on Tuesday – a match taking place at his home ground in Durham.
Test captain Stokes announced his ODI retirement on Monday with a remarkably sharp comment that England’s current schedule was “unsustainable” and that he could no longer give his best in all three international formats.
Stokes, who will continue to play Tests and T20 internationals, elaborated on his decision to waive the one-day match in a pre-match interview where he warned other players he could follow suit.
‘Too much cricket’
“The more cricket played the better for the sport, but you want a product of the highest quality,” he told BBC Radios. Test Match Special.
“You want the best players to play as much as possible, all the time.
“It’s not just me or us, you see it now all over the world where teams have to rest some players in a certain series so they feel like they’re getting a break.
“We’re not cars, you can’t just fill us up and then we’ll go out and be ready to fill up again.”
Stokes, 31, added: “I just feel like too much cricket is being rammed in to let people play all three formats now.”
Tuesday’s game came halfway through a grueling England schedule of 12 white-ball games in 25 days this month, with the test team playing seven games in the 2022 home season.
Stokes, highlighting a tie-up with the three-match ODI series from England to the Netherlands taking place in the short gap between the second and third Test against New Zealand, added: “We had a test series and then the one-day team had a series going on at the same time – that was a bit silly.”
Stokes said his retirement from ODIs, three years after his player-of-the-match display in England’s World Cup triumph and just over 12 months into their title defense in India, was earlier than expected.
“Because I’m captain of the test team and how much cricket we have I do have to take care of my body… But hopefully when I’m 35 or 36 and still playing test cricket I’ll be very happy with this decision I have taken.”
England’s Test form has been revived under Stokes and new red ball coach Brendon McCullum.
Since the pair took the lead, England have won a series of three Tests against New Zealand before beating India in the final game of a Covid-delayed series.
“He really wants to be able to bowl, he doesn’t just want to be a batter, he also wants to contribute as an all-rounder,” said England cricket director Rob Key.
“I hope and bet that this takes him to more than 120 test matches.”