England great slams 'broken' cricket move after Ben Stokes bombshell
England's packed playing schedule is under the spotlight after Test captain Ben Stokes announced he was retiring from the one-day game.
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 arena.
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The 31-year-old fired a parting shot at the schedule himself, which he described as 'unsustainable' in a message to fans explaining his decision.
Having already declined to participate in this year's IPL and the upcoming Hundred competition in England, Stokes' decision was not necessarily a surprise to many of his cricketing predecessors, but a disappointment nonetheless.
Many, including the likes of Nasser Hussain, applauded his decision to focus his attention on the format still considered the most prestigious in Tests, where he has enjoyed a resurgence since inheriting the captaincy.
Stokes will subsequently be unavailable for England's defence of the Cricket World Cup.
A packed ICC calendar, as well as several tours to make up for postponed events during COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, has contributed to a gruelling schedule for England in particular.
"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."
"I feel that my body is letting me down because of the schedule and what is expected of us."
Cricket is broken. https://t.co/L7wHPdlPuS
— Ben Gardner (@Ben_Wisden) July 18, 2022
Stokes' ODI retirement - complete with very carefully worded criticism of England's schedule - has to be the tipping point.
The fixture list is complete bullsh*t and it's wrecking the players and the product. Enough.
— Rory Dollard (@thervd) July 18, 2022
Ben Stokes' retirement statement and the fact that just about every multi-format seamer in the country is injured makes it abundantly clear that something has to change in England's schedule
Prediction: nothing will
— Matt Roller (@mroller98) July 18, 2022
England great backs Ben Stokes amid scheduling debate
Hussain was both pleased Stokes had mad a decision he believed was both in his own best interests and England's, 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.”
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