Ben Stokes, speaking to Sky Sports: “I want to play 140, 150 Test matches. Giving up a format has come earlier that I would have liked but there’s a longevity I’ve thought about. Hopefully when I’m 35 or 36, still playing Test and T20 cricket, I can say I’m very happy with this decision”
Last Updated: 19/07/22 6:39pm
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
England Test captain Ben Stokes speaks to Nasser Hussain about his decision to retire from ODI cricket, saying the schedule has become unsustainable
Ben Stokes says his ODI retirement was triggered by an “unsustainable” cricketing schedule, saying the calendar is currently too packed for players to feature in all formats.
England Test captain Stokes quit the international 50-over game on Monday, with Tuesday’s series opener against South Africa at his home ground in Durham his final match in the format.
The 31-year-old told Sky Sports Cricket he has taken the decision to step away from ODIs in order to prolong his career in the Test and T20 international formats.
Stokes has led England to four Test victories in a row since succeeding Joe Root as red-ball captain in April, while he is set to play a big role for his country in the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
‘We’re not cars – you can’t fill us up with petrol’
Speaking to Sky Sports Cricket’s Nasser Hussain, the all-rounder said: “I think the schedule and everything that is expected of us these days, for me personally at the moment, it feels unsustainable.
“We’re not cars where you can just fill us up with petrol or diesel and then let us go. It does have this effect on you, the amount of playing and travelling we do – it all adds up.
“The schedule at the moment is all very jam-packed. It’s asking a lot of the players to keep putting in 100 per cent of their efforts every time they walk out on the field for their country.
“If you want the best product out there, you obviously want the best players on the field [but] teams are now looking at their squads and saying, ‘where can we give players a break?’
“If teams and organisations feel their best players need a break because they need to look after them for one format, I don’t think it looks good.
“I also look at the fact that we were playing a Test match and our white-ball team were playing a one-day series at the same time. It’s a bit odd.”
England will play more than 100 days of men’s international cricket across all formats during the next 12 months.
Stokes added to the BBC’s Test Match Special: “I just feel like there is too much cricket rammed in for people to play all three formats now.
“It is a lot harder than it used to be. I look back to when I used to do all three and it didn’t feel like it was as jam-packed.”
‘I didn’t feel I could contribute in the way I wanted to’
Reflecting on when he decided to call time on his ODI career, Stokes said: “It was actually after the first one-day game [against India earlier this month] where it was quite clear. Probably the best thing one person said to me was, ‘if there’s any doubt, there’s no doubt’.
“This England shirt deserves 100 per cent from whoever wears it and, unfortunately, I didn’t like the feeling of not being able to contribute in the way I want to be able to.
“Also, there’s the feeling of stopping someone else from being able to progress in this format for England, someone I know is desperate to go out there and give the team 100 per cent of themselves.
“When I thought about it long and hard, and realised that I don’t feel I can do that in all three formats – obviously with how the body felt after the Test series coming into this – it was made easy.
“I couldn’t go out there and give my all.
“You almost think it’s meant to be. What an amazing day to have – to walk off the field at your home ground, in front of your home fans, where everything started for me. Durham gave me my first opportunity and put me through the first-class system. Without Durham, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Ben Stokes on playing his final ODI at Durham
“It was never going to be an easy [decision] but now being the captain of the Test team, and how much cricket we’ve got coming up, I’ve got to bear in mind that I’ve got to look after my body.
Stokes: I want to play 150 Test matches for England
“I want to play as long as I possibly can. I look at the way [James Anderson and Stuart Broad’s] careers have gone when they stopped playing white-ball cricket.
“I asked Stuart whether he felt stopping playing white-ball cricket was a huge reason why he is still playing at 36 and has played [sic] 160 Test matches? He said, without a shadow of a doubt, yes.
“That’s what I want to do. I want to play 140, 150 Test matches for England. Giving one of the formats up has come a lot earlier that I would have liked it to, at 31 years of age, but there’s a longevity that I’ve thought about.
“Hopefully when I’m 35 or 36, still playing Test cricket and T20 cricket, I can look back on this and say I’m very happy with the decision I’ve made.”
Wood: Stokes an ‘icon’ and ‘natural leader’
Stokes’ England and Durham team-mate Mark Wood, part of Sky Sports’ coverage for his final ODI game, said he was “shocked” by the news and Stokes’ presence will be most sorely missed in the dressing room.
“I was shocked because I spoke to him in the morning – and he didn’t tell me!,” Wood said.
Twitter Due to your consent preferences, you’re not able to view this Privacy Options
“But I was sad, to be honest, more than anything. I wouldn’t say shocked, because with the schedule and the way that it is, he just can’t do everything.
“We saw the way it built up on Joe Root at the end of his [Test] captaincy, and Stokesy wants to throw everything he can at that.”
Wood added: “I know his numbers are good, but it’s more he’ll be missed for who he is in the dressing room.
“He is an icon. People in that dressing room still look up to Stokesy – he will be a big miss.”
“I know he comes across as this alpha guy, but he cares about everyone in that dressing room – he wants to make sure that they’re alright, he looks after people, puts an arm round people. He will be a big miss from that point of view.
“And he’s a leader, a natural leader – even when Morgs was captain – in the way he trained and went about things. He was something for everybody to look up to.”