England Test captain Ben Stokes claims standard of international cricket is being harmed by the sport’s packed schedule, with star’s ODI retirement caused by ‘unsustainable’ demands
- Ben Stokes believes the international calendar is impacting multi-format players
- The England star retired from one-day international cricket this summer
- Stokes said playing all three format was ‘unsustainable’ due to the scheduling
- England have been revitalised under Stokes’ captaincy of the Test team
Ben Stokes has vowed to preserve Test cricket’s status as the game’s most important format in the face of the continued threat from the ever expanding white-ball game.
The England captain, who has transformed the Test team in conjunction with coach Brendon McCullum, promised Lord Ian Botham that he would continue with his endeavour to make every day’s Test cricket full of entertainment.
England’s two greatest all-rounders were brought together on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme where Botham, guest editor of the show, said that ‘if we ever lose Test cricket we will lose the game as we know it.
Ben Stokes retired from one-day internationals this year due to the ‘unsustainable schedule’
Stokes had played a key role in England’s triumph in the 50-over World Cup in 2019
He found a like mind in Stokes, who has made it his mission not only to make England the No1 Test team in the world again but also to revolutionise the grand old format worldwide to preserve its appeal for the next generation of fans.
‘In the last few years I have been hearing Test cricket being spoken about in a way I don’t like,’ said Stokes, fresh from leading England to their historic 3-0 victory over Pakistan that extended their run under him to nine wins in 10 games. ‘It’s been losing the attention on it with all the new formats around the world.
‘We do understand there’s so many opportunities out there for players to seek. But for me Test cricket is so important for this game and always should be. I absolutely love playing Test cricket and I just felt, and feel, that we could do something different as a team.
‘If you can have people turn up and be really excited about the cricket they’re going to come and watch then I feel you’ve already won before you’ve even bowled a ball. We know we have a special opportunity now to do something bigger than ourselves.’
The England captain believes his team’s approach is exciting fans about the Test format again
The problem Stokes has is with the ever-increasing volume of white-ball cricket that sees more and more franchise leagues appearing and competing with the international game, forcing first-class cricket into the margins and threatening the future of Tests.
The England captain wants international schedules to be urgently looked at and highlighted England’s recent three-match 50-over series against Australia, which rapidly followed Jos Buttler’s white-ball side’s triumph in the Twenty20 World Cup, as ‘a series which meant nothing.’
‘The scheduling doesn’t get the attention it should,’ said Stokes, who retired from one-day international cricket last year because it was ‘unsustainable’ to play in all formats. ‘Some people say ‘you are playing for England, that should be enough,’ but there is a lot more to factor in.
‘You want international cricket to be of the highest standard but we have seen a lot of different squads being picked and players being rested and that’s not the way international cricket should go.’
Stokes also reflected on the break he had from the game last year to protect his mental health, which was featured in the searingly honest documentary of his life that was released this year. ‘I felt a certain way and I needed to take a break,’ he said. ‘I felt I needed some help to get me back to where I am today.
‘I was really blown away actually about the impact and the effect that particular segment of the documentary had on people’s lives and how we actually encouraged them to go out and sort of get some help.’