Ben Stokes quits ODI cricket in warning to England over ‘unsustainable’ schedule

England’s World Cup hero Ben Stokes has announced his shock retirement from one-day cricket, departing with a word of warning about the “unsustainable” schedule.

Stokes’ bloody-minded brilliance was the inspiration behind England’s historic victory in the 2019 World Cup final, defying the odds to score 84 not out in a tied match against New Zealand and then coming back to settle matters via a super over.

But in three years since that triumphant moment, the country’s star all-rounder has played just nine more times in the 50-over format, due to injuries, a mental health break and workload management.

The 31-year-old will turn out once more for a farewell appearance, at his home ground of Chester-le-Street against South Africa on Tuesday, before focusing on his Test captaincy and Twenty20 career.

Ben Stokes has announced his shock retirement from one-day cricket and will play his final match at his home ground of Durham on Tuesday. (Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire)

And while that will be a chance to celebrate his achievements over the course of 11 years, he made it clear in a carefully worded statement – issued personally on his social media accounts then shared by his employers at the ECB – that England’s exhausting fixture list has been a factor in forcing his hand.

A born competitor, he has concluded that the demands currently being placed on the country’s all-format players are becoming impossible to manage.

“This has been an incredibly tough decision to make. I have loved every minute of playing with my mates for England. We have had an incredible journey on the way,” he said.

“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 team-mates 100 per cent of myself in this format any more. The England shirt deserves nothing less from anyone who wears it.

England's Ben Stokes (left) and Eoin Morgan celebrate their win after the match during the ICC World Cup Final. (Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire)

“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 Jos (Buttler, captain) and the rest of the team their all. It’s time for someone else to progress as a cricketer and make incredible memories like I have over the past 11 years.

“I have loved all 104 games I have played so far, I’ve got one more, and it feels amazing to be playing my last game at my home ground in Durham. I will give everything I have to Test cricket, and now, with this decision, I feel I can also give my total commitment to the T20 format.”

England have crammed seven Tests and 12 limited-overs internationals into their summer, coming off the back of a busy Ashes winter, and are due to leave for Pakistan – the first leg of an even busier touring programme – less than a week after their final home Test. With that kind of calendar, Stokes’ decision is a red flag for a format that is increasingly vulnerable following the abandonment of the Super League format and South Africa’s cancellation of games against Australia.

Stokes built an ODI CV of 2,919 runs, 74 wickets and 49 catches, but his achievements will not be measured by bare numbers.

England's Ben Stokes in batting action during the ICC World Cup Final at Lord's, London. Ben Stokes has announced his shock retirement from one-day cricket (Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire)

He debuted in 2011 as part of a side that had been left behind in one-day cricket and ended up as the fulcrum of Eoin Morgan’s market-leading world champions eight years later.

Waters on Stokes: Page 19