NASSER HUSSAIN: Something had to give in Ben Stokes' brutal schedule

NASSER HUSSAIN: Ben Stokes can no longer keep up with the physical demands of being the multi-format cricketer we have become used to… something had to give in his brutal schedule

  • Ben Stokes has opted to retire from one-day international cricket for England
  • It seems his decision to retire from 50 overs is due to current physical condition 
  • Fans have become used to Stokes playing across all formats in recent years
  • However, something had to give as he is struggling with the current demands 

Speaking to Ben Stokes on Tuesday, it seemed he was in a good place mentally and his decision to quit one-day internationals is much more about how he is physically.

His body, and his left knee in particular, is the problem. Mark Wood was working with us at Sky this match, and he said you can always tell where Stokes is with his body when you watch the follow-through of his bowling.

Compared to years gone by, when he was fully fit, Tuesday was drastically different. After a couple of balls he was limping off towards the side of the pitch, not fully maintaining his momentum through the crease and down it.

Ben Stokes always gives 100 per cent effort but his body is struggling at the moment

He looks to be nursing a knee problem after playing a lot of cricket in recent weeks

There has been an admission that he cannot keep up with the demands of being the multi-format international cricketer that we have become used to and it was great, in a time when people are questioning Test match cricket and players are retiring from it to go exclusively to the shortest format, to see someone value it so much that they want to go the other way and prolong it.

With those physical challenges, something had to give, and let’s be honest 50-over cricket is the form that doesn’t quite float a cricketer’s boat. 

Twenty20 is lucrative, leads to opportunities with franchises and is short and sharp while Test match cricket is something you love and hate in equal measure because of what it takes out of you. It is a mental battle that tests you to the absolute limits.

Yes, his decision was something of a shout to the administrators because at the age of 31 someone like him shouldn’t have to retire from a certain format. 

He called out the time earlier this year when England were playing Ashes cricket in Australia at the same time as a white-ball side was on the other side of the world, playing T20 against West Indies. It will happen again in New Zealand and Bangladesh next February. How is that the best against the best?

Stokes is loved by his team-mates and skipping the IPL shows he is not driven by money 

Stokes is not a man driven by money – hence he skipped the Indian Premier League this year, and will perhaps do so next. Every time he goes onto that field, he wants to be 100% committed, not 80% – and that is what makes him the player he is.

Some might suggest 80% of Stokes is enough but the problem is that once you play at 80%, it can lead lead to a drop in performance in another format. Just look at what has happened to Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson, for example. He doesn’t want to become stale. Or go through the motions. He couldn’t do that.

Ben Stokes has given cricket some iconic moments and that’s why I would like him around for England’s World Cup title defence next year. When it comes to it, he is a fighter, a character and a winner. So it is frustrating that someone like that won’t be there.

What is nice to see, though, is that it looks like he’s disappearing off into a Test match sunset as opposed to someone who is chasing a pension of franchise tournaments.

It’s a shame that Stokes will not be around next year to help England defend the World Cup

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