Friday, May 24, 2024

Stokes says no to T20 World Cup; to focus on fitness

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England all-rounder Ben Stokes has asked to not be considered for selection for this summer’s T20 World Cup to focus on his fitness.

Stokes says he wants to use the break to ensure he can be “the all-rounder I want to be” across all formats.

He had knee surgery over the winter and bowled just five overs during the recent five-Test series in India.

The England Test captain, 32, has already opted out of the Indian Premier League, which began last month.

England are defending champions in the T20 World Cup, which takes place in the West Indies and United States in June.

That tournament is followed by home Test series for England against the West Indies and Sri Lanka, before a T20 and one-day series against Australia in September.

Stokes said: “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.”

Stokes has had a long-term injury in his left knee, which has often prevented him from bowling.

He did not bowl in the final three Ashes Tests against Australia last summer and played as a specialist batter in the 50-over World Cup in India in October and November.

The all-rounder had surgery after that tournament and recovered in time to captain the Test team in India earlier this year.

Stokes only bowled in the final Test, taking 1-17, as England lost by an innings and 64 runs to complete a 4-1 series defeat.

“You want to see Ben Stokes in any and every team, but you fully understand the journey that he’s been on,” said England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Richard Gould.

“He’s someone that’s put his body on the line literally for years for England. Particularly with the new operation that he had just before Christmas and the promising rehabilitation he’s had since, there’s really good news for us.

“The fact that now he knows that he can get better and stronger, that’s great for us for the next two, three, four years, however long, because in cricket terms he’s still a relatively young man.”

Sam Billings, who has played alongside Stokes in white-ball cricket for England, told BBC Sport: “When you’re over 30 you need to manage yourself mentally and physically, and he feels prioritising Test cricket is the right move for him.

“It feels a smart move to me. He’s one of England’s greatest players and he’s earned the right to do that.”

Stokes has played 43 T20 internationals for England since 2011, scoring 585 runs and taking 26 wickets.

He hit an unbeaten 52 from 49 balls to help England beat Pakistan by five wickets in the 2022 T20 World Cup final in Melbourne.

England begin the defence of the trophy against Scotland in Barbados on June 4, before further group matches against Australia, Oman and Namibia. (BBC)




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