RUN ON THE GROUND
Ben Stokes leading England in his last ODI. ©Getty
Ben Stokes has urged cricket administrators not to treat players like ‘cars’ by filling the schedule with many matches. The versatile player who announced the first ODI against South Africa in Durham would be his last, said it was “unsustainable” for him to feature in all three formats. England have played cricket continuously for the past two months, with up to 17 days of cricket in July alone, followed by a three-game Test series against South Africa next month.
“We’re not cars. You can’t just fill us up and we’ll go over there and be ready to fill up again. We had a series of tests and then the one day team had a series at the same time – that was kind of silly,” Stokes told Test Match Special.
“I just feel like there’s too much cricket for people to play all three formats now. It’s a lot harder than before. I think back to when I was doing all three and I don’t didn’t feel like it was that busy and stuff. Obviously you want to play cricket as much as you can but when it tires you out it hurts you and you have to wait five or six months later for what you’re doing here and now that’s probably not the best thing.
“The more cricket you play the better it is for the sport, but you want the highest quality product. You want the best players to play as much as possible, all the time, and it’s not just me or You see it all over the world now where teams have to rest certain players in a certain streak so they feel like they’re taking a break,” he said.
Stokes, who scored just 48 runs and managed just three overs in the ODI series against India which England lost 1-2, said he made the decision to quit in the 50-over format after the opener against the Rohit Sharma-led team. “After that one-day game, it hit me in the face. A quick chat with Jos [Buttler] after the game, I said that if the game had been in a different position, I would have played more for him. We had five minutes together, he said you owed the team nothing and I had plenty of cricket to come. It was nice to hear.
“I left and had five minutes to myself, told him I almost felt a little useless that I can’t do this. It’s not a nice feeling, knowing that I have to take care of me, the captain is trying to take care of me, the medical team and the coach too. It’s international cricket, you can’t do that,” Stokes said.
Stokes, 31, also gave examples of Stuart Broad (36) and James Anderson (39), who were able to continue their cricketing careers because they only play the red ball format. Stokes also revealed a conversation with Broad where the latter talked about playing a limited number of games as the reason for his longevity. “I asked Stuart if he felt that not playing white ball cricket was a reason he was still playing now, 160 Tests. He said without a shadow of a doubt, yes. I want to play 140-150 tests for England.
“It happened a lot sooner than I would have liked at 31, dropping one of the formats. Bowl T20, 2-3 overs here and there. The longevity I thought about. Hopefully when I’m 35, 36, still playing Test cricket, I can look back on that decision and say I’m very happy with it,” Stokes said.