England’s Ben Stokes to retire from ODIs after South Africa swansong

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 (PA)
(PA)

Ben Stokes, who dragged England to their first men’s 50-over World Cup triumph three years ago, will retire from One-Day International cricket after tomorrow’s match against South Africa on his home ground, the Riverside.

Stokes, England’s Test captain, cited England’s absurd schedule as a key reason behind his decision. He is committed to Test cricket – sitting out this year’s IPL and Hundred in order to remain fresh for that format – and remains available for T20 cricket.

There is a World Cup in that format later this year, although he has not played a match for England in T20 for 16 months and is not in the squad for the upcoming series against South Africa.

The match in Durham on Tuesday will be Stokes’ 105th since his debut against Ireland in August 2011. He will finish with a batting average close to 40; he currently has 2,919 runs at an average of 39.44 and strike-rate of 95. He also 74 wickets, including one five-wicket haul, in the format. He captained England three times in ODIs, in a 3-0 win with a scratch team against Pakistan last summer, following a Covid-19 outbreak in the camp.

Stokes had a disjointed start to his ODI career, playing just 10 matches before his Test debut in December 2013. He was offered plenty of opportunity in 2014, before England made the controversial decision to leave him out of the squad for the 2015 World Cup. They were knocked out in the group stages, and Stokes was made a key part of the rebuild that began immediately after the tournament, batting at No5.

At the World Cup in 2019, Stokes was England’s key all-round performer, and was player of the match in the final. His unbeaten 84 forced the game into a Super Over, when he batted again with Jos Buttler, now the captain.

Stokes regretted that he had to make the decision.

“This has been an incredibly tough decision to make,” he said. “I have loved every minute of playing with my mates for England. We have had an incredible journey on the way.

“As hard as a decision as this was to come to, it’s not as hard dealing with the fact I can’t give my teammates 100% of myself in this format anymore. The England shirt deserves nothing less from anyone who wears it.

“Three formats are just unsustainable for me now. Not only do I feel that my body is letting me down because of the schedule and what is expected of us, but I also feel that I am taking the place of another player who can give Jos and the rest of the team their all. It’s time for someone else to progress as a cricketer and make incredible memories like I have over the past 11 years.

“I will give everything I have to Test cricket, and now, with this decision, I feel I can also give my total commitment to the T20 format.

“I would like to wish Jos Buttler, Matthew Mott, the players and the support staff every success going forward. We have made great strides in white-ball cricket over the past seven years, and the future looks bright.

“I have loved all 104 games I have played so far, I’ve got one more, and it feels amazing to be playing my last game at my home ground in Durham.

“As always, the England fans have always been there for me and will continue to be there. You’re the best fans in the world. I hope we can win on Tuesday and set the series up nicely against South Africa.”

Rob Key, the ECB’s Managing Director of Men’s Cricket, described Stokes’ call as “a typically selfless decision that will benefit England long-term” as he continued to play other formats.

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