Ben Stokes’s retirement should act as ‘wake-up call’ for cricket as England suffer ODI defeat
England captain Jos Buttler believes Ben Stokes’s retirement from one-day cricket should act as a “wake-up call” for the game, as he faces up to his own challenge of finding a way to replace his star all-rounder.
Stokes bade farewell to the 50-over game with a disappointing 62-run defeat against South Africa at his home ground in Durham, drawing the curtain on an 11-year career that will always be remembered for his stunning performance in the 2019 World Cup final.
The 31-year-old has made it clear he is departing sooner than intended, a stark reaction to a relentless fixture schedule that no longer allows him to meet his own high standards across three different formats.
Stokes has said England’s calendar has become “unsustainable” and broadened the warning in interviews ahead of his farewell appearance, which yielded figures of 0-44 from five overs and an innings of just five.
And it is clear that Buttler shares his concerns. England are seven games through a run of 12 white-ball internationals in 24 days, with four Test matches already in the books and three against the Proteas still to come.
“It should definitely be a bit of a wake-up call. Absolutely. Especially with the magnitude of the player,” he said.
“Ben’s one of the most recognisable players in world cricket, someone everyone wants to see play in every format. I’m sure there’s more to it than the schedules etc but I think in international cricket you always want your best players playing if possible.
“It’s bittersweet as an England fan... there’s a bit of sadness that Ben is no longer available in this form of the game. But our loss in ODI cricket is certainly going to be England’s gain in Test cricket.
“That’s his favoured format and his priority, especially now he’s captain, and I’m sure it will give him much more longevity in the purest form of the game.”
Buttler has had a tough start to his tenure, losing the T20 and ODI series against India and already facing another series decider against the South Africans at Old Trafford on Friday.
With five defeats and two wins on his ledger since taking over from Eoin Morgan, he has now accepted that forging his own path is not going to be an easy challenge or an immediate success.
“We’re probably moving through a bit of a transition phase with Eoin going and Ben going. That’s the natural cycle of teams,” he said.
“We have to find ways to give people opportunities to replace those guys. People who play like Ben are once in a generation players, so it’s a good challenge for us to work out our best way forward as a team without him.
“It presents chances for others to step up in different roles and take more responsibility.”
Stokes finishes with 105 one-day international appearances, with England winning 60 and losing 38, with two ties and five no-results.
In 90 innings culminating in Tuesday’s score of five on his home ground at Durham, he scored 2,924 runs at an average of 38.98 and a strike rate of 95.08 runs per 100 balls.
He bowled 88 times, taking 74 wickets at 42.39, and added 49 catches.
“From myself and all England fans, we want to say thank you for everything he has done in this format of the game,” said Buttler.
“Three years ago will live long in the memory, but every day he turns up for this team, whether it be training or a match - he puts in 100 per cent and he has been a fantastic ambassador for us in ODI cricket and we will miss him.”
World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan also paid tribute to Stokes.
“(England will miss) his all-round contribution, both in the changing room and on the field,” Morgan said. “Probably more so in the changing room. He is a true leader and drags other people with him.
“He makes other players better by making them believing that anything is possible and it was a huge pleasure to be able to take the field with him.
England bowler Mark Wood added: “He will go down as a legend in this format.
“He was the guy who won the World Cup in 2019, it is hard to forget that.”
England report: Page 25