Ben Stokes rules himself out of T20 World Cup selection for England

Ben Stokes provided a moment of magic on his bowling return (AP)
Ben Stokes provided a moment of magic on his bowling return (AP)

Ben Stokes confirmed that he has ruled himself out of England selection for the upcoming T20 World Cup.

The current men’s Test captain said he did not want to be considered for the squad as Jos Buttler’s side aim to defend their title at the tournament in the summer in the West Indies and United States.

The announcement comes after Stokes had already ruled himself out of the 2024 Indian Premier League – a tournament that is widely considered the ideal preparation for the T20 World Cup – due to concerns over workload.

“I’m working hard and focusing on building my bowling fitness back up to fulfil a full role as an all-rounder in all formats of cricket,” Stokes said.

Ben Stokes only returned to bowling in the fifth Test of the series against India (Getty)
Ben Stokes only returned to bowling in the fifth Test of the series against India (Getty)

“Opting out of the IPL and the World Cup will hopefully be a sacrifice that allows me to be the all-rounder I want to be for the foreseeable future.

“The recent Test tour of India highlighted how far behind I was from a bowling point of view after my knee surgery and nine months without bowling. I’m looking forward to playing for Durham in the County Championship before the start of our Test summer.

“I wish Jos [Buttler], Motty [Matthew Mott] and all the team the best of luck in defending our title.”

Stokes underwent surgery on a long-standing knee issue in November and returned to bowling for the first time since the second Ashes Test at Lord’s in the final Test of England’s disappointing 4-1 series defeat in India.

He looked more comfortable with the ball than he had done in years, and has shown footage on social media of his work to regain his front-leg “brace” position delivery.

The England captain worked tirelessly on his rehabilitation and return to fitness before the tour, and has regularly reiterated that he views himself primarily as an all-rounder.

Ahead of the start of the County Championship season on 5 April, Stokes has been working on increasing his bowling and is aiming towards being ready for the home Test series against the West Indies and Sri Lanka in the summer as an all-rounder.

In England’s dismal defence of their 50-over World Cup title in the autumn, when they were lucky to qualify for the 2025 Champions Trophy, Stokes played as a batter due to his ongoing knee troubles.

He had retired from the one-day format ahead of the World Cup but was enticed back into the fold, scoring a century against the Netherlands.

England’s white-ball team has come under scrutiny in recent months following their humbling at the World Cup in India, with questions raised about their ageing squad, and pressure has been put on captain Jos Buttler and white-ball coach Matthew Mott.

When could Stokes feature in the County Championship?

Stokes’ decision is a boost for Durham, who will begin the season with genuine title ambitions in Division One of the County Championship.

Coached by Ryan Campbell, the county embraced a positive brand of cricket in 2023 to win Division Two and earn promotion for the first time since a controversial relegation in 2016.

Wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson, opener Alex Lees and seamer Matthew Potts will be among those hoping to press their international case in the early rounds of the new county season, potentially alongside England’s red-ball skipper.

It is unclear exaclty when Stokes, who last played red-ball domestic cricket in May 2022, will be able to feature for Durham, though there is plenty of time before England’s Test summer begins against the West Indies on 10 July.

Durham play seven County Championship fixtures before the end of May - the schedule for these is as follows:

Durham vs Hampshire (Chester-le-Street, from 5 April)

Warwickshire vs Durham (Edgbaston, from 12 April)

Worcestershire vs Durham (Kidderminster, from 19 April)

Durham vs Essex (Chester-le-Street, from 26 April)

Hampshire vs Durham (Southampton, from 10 May)

Lancashire vs Durham (Blackpool, from 17 May)

Durham vs Somerset (Chester-le-Street, from 24 May)