Aussie cricket great's dire warning over Ben Stokes saga: 'Alarm bells'

·4-min read
Ben Stokes' shock ODI retirement has highlighted a growing concern in international cricket. Pic: AAP
Ben Stokes' shock ODI retirement has highlighted a growing concern in international cricket. Pic: AAP

Former Australia captain Mark Taylor says Ben Stokes' bombshell decision to retire from England's one day international (ODI) cricket setup has exposed a major problem for the sport.

Stokes sent a shockwave through the cricketing world on Tuesday by walking away from his illustrious ODI career, with the England captain preferring to focus his attention on the Test and T20 arena.

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The 31-year-old blamed a packed cricket schedule, which he described as 'unsustainable' in a statement explaining his decision.

"We are not cars," Stokes told the BBC.

"You can't just fill us up and we'll go out there and be ready to be fuelled up again. We had a Test series and then the one-day team had a series going on at the same time - that was a bit silly.

"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.

"The more cricket that is played, the better for the sport, but you want a product that is of the highest quality."

Taylor said he shared many of Stokes' concerns and insisted that the unfortunate situation should serve as a warning for cricket bosses around the world.

"I think alarm bells have been ringing for some time, to be brutally honest," Taylor told Wide World of Sports."The issue is where the game is at with three international formats, then all the domestic T20 leagues, headed up by the IPL which is huge.

"Players like Ben Stokes are in high-demand, and given they're very well paid by the T20 competitions, eventually something has to give."

Any cricket purist would understand Stokes' decision to prioritise Test cricket over ODIs, with the riches of T20 cricket no doubt influencing the England Test captain's decision.

"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 per cent of myself in this format anymore," Stokes said.

"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 (captain) Jos (Buttler) and the rest of the team their all."

Seen here, Ben Stokes acknowledging fans as he leaves the ground in what was the England batter's last ever ODI for England.
Ben Stokes acknowledges fans as he leaves the ground in what was the England batter's last ever ODI for England. Pic: Getty

Cricket greats take aim at crazy schedule for players

Former England captain Nasser Hussain was both pleased Stokes had mad a decision he believed was in his and England's best interests, but lamented that one of their best players was walking away from ODI cricket at such a young age.

It comes amid a broader debate about the future of ODIs, after India's Ravi Ashwin recently admitted he turns off such matches when they are broadcast.

“It is disappointing news to say the least but it is a reflection of where the cricketing schedule is at the moment,” Hussain told Sky Sports.

“It is madness for players.

“Half the reasons will be physical, and half will be mental, and mental in Ben’s case is the fact he can’t do things at 70, 80%."

Hussain said the ECB wasn't so much to blame as the ICC, who have committed to a packed international schedule featuring 12 Tests, 18 ODIs, 19 bilateral T20Is and the T20 World Cup between June this year and March 2023.

“If the ICC just keep putting on ICC events and individual boards just keep filling the gaps with as much cricket as possible, eventually these cricketers will just say I’m done, and Ben Stokes is done with one format aged 31, which can’t be right, really," he said.

"The schedule needs looking at, it is a bit of a joke at the moment.”

with agencies

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