Stokes hopes ODI retirement will prolong England Test career, labels schedule 'unsustainable'

By Sports Desk July 19, 2022

Ben Stokes hopes his ODI retirement will prolong his Test career, as he reiterated his belief the current schedule makes it "unsustainable" for him to continue in all three formats.

Stokes, who has won his first four Tests since taking over as England's red-ball captain, will make his final ODI appearance against South Africa at Durham on Tuesday.

The all-rounder was instrumental in England's crowning achievement in the format, producing a remarkable 84 not out and registering eight in an enthralling Super Over to steer the side to victory in the 2019 World Cup final against New Zealand.

The 31-year-old will play his 105th ODI against the Proteas, having averaged 39.44 runs and taken a total of 74 wickets across his previous 104 outings in the format.

Speaking to Nasser Hussain for Sky Sports ahead of his one-day swansong, Stokes shed further light on his decision to focus on Test and Twenty20 cricket.

"It was a number of things, I think the schedule, everything that's expected of us these days is just, for me... it feels unsustainable," he said.

"It was actually after the first one-day game [against India last week], one person I spoke to [said] probably the best thing that was said to me, which was, 'if there's any doubt, there's no doubt'.

"As I said in my statement, this England shirt deserves 100 per cent of whoever wears it, and unfortunately, I didn't like the feeling of not being able to contribute in the way that I want to be able to. As an all-rounder I want to contribute with the bat, I want to contribute with the ball.

"Also [I didn't like the feeling of] stopping someone else being able to progress in this format for England, who I know is desperate to go out there and able to give the captain and the coach 100 per cent of themselves.

"When I thought about it long and hard and realised I don't think I can do that in all three formats after how the body felt after the Test series, it was easy, knowing that I can't go out there and give my all."

Stokes, who has made 83 Test appearances for his country, revealed giving up one of the white-ball formats to prolong his career was something he had considered for some time.

But he admitted he struggled to choose between ODI and T20 cricket, adding: "Yeah, it was never going to be an easy one.

"I always knew that at some point, I'd have to choose one of the white-ball formats to continue with, I just didn't know which one.

"After that one-day game, it just hit me in the face. I had a quick chat with Jos [Buttler] after the game and said if the game was in a different situation, I would've carried on bowling.

"Now, being the captain of the Test team, and with how much cricket we've got coming up, I've also got to bear in mind that I've got to look after my body because I want to play as long as I possibly can. 

"I look at the way Jimmy and Broady's careers have gone when they stopped playing white-ball cricket, and that's what I want to do. I want to play 140 or 150 Test matches for England.

"It's come a lot earlier than I would have liked it to, at 31 years of age, to give one of the formats up, but there's longevity that I've thought about.

"Hopefully when I'm 35 or 36 and still playing Test cricket and T20 cricket, I can look back on this decision and say I'm very happy with the decision I made."

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