Ben Stokes to decide on IPL 2023 participation based on English calendar, suggests 40-over ODI-format

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Ben Stokes to decide on IPL 2023 participation based on English calendar, suggests 40-over ODI-format
Ben Stokes to decide on IPL 2023 participation based on English calendar, suggests 40-over ODI-format

Ben Stokes to decide on IPL 2023 participation based on English calendar, suggests 40-over ODI-format

Some of the top international cricketers may have changed their priorities as a result of the emergence of numerous T20 leagues, but England Test captain Ben Stokes is very clear that his participation in the 2023 IPL would depend on the schedule of the national team.

One of the best all-rounders in the world, Stokes, has already retired from 50-over cricket in order to achieve a better work-life balance. For Stokes, nothing is more essential than donning the spotless whites.

“It is a case of looking at schedules, looking ahead at what we have got coming up. But as I have made it very clear, Test cricket is at the forefront of my mind and all of my time decisions will be based around Test matches.

“Now being the captain, I have the responsibility to do that,” Stokes told PTI during a virtual interaction organized by ‘Amazon Prime Video’ on the occasion of the release of his documentary series ‘Ben Stokes: Phoenix from the Ashes’.

The IPL is a “amazing tournament” for the 31-year-old, who has scored 5320 runs and taken over 200 wickets (185) in 84 Tests, but he will only participate if his busy schedule permits.

“I’ve played in the IPL for four years. I’ve loved it every time I’ve been there. It’s an amazing competition to be part of, not just for the spectacle of the IPL but the opportunity to work along with the best players in the world, and some of the best coaches.

“It is just an amazing experience to be involved in but as I said, there is a schedule to be looked at around the window of the IPL,” Stokes, who had once got more than USD 2 million bid from Rajasthan Royals, added.

Then he clarified why it is always challenging for English players to participate in the IPL.

“As England cricketers, our schedule is jam-packed and we seem to be playing all year around. I think our summer is everybody’s winter and when our winter comes along, it is everybody’s summer. So, people are either coming here to play or we are touring to play cricket.”

Ben Stokes to decide on IPL 2023 participation based on English calendar
Ben Stokes to decide on IPL 2023 participation based on English calendar
May be we can think of 40 over ODIs

With the launch of Cricket South Africa’s new T20 league and the UAE’s ILT20 league the following year, the international bilateral calendar is becoming increasingly jam-packed and the value of ODIs is being called into doubt.

Stokes’ decision to leave the format in which he played 105 games, scoring nearly 3000 runs and taking 74 wickets, including a record-breaking total in the 2019 World Cup final at Lord’s, is a case in point.

“It is a great question at the moment with how much cricket is being played around the world,” he answered another query.

“The last thing anybody wants is a format, I don’t know, taken away from people. Maybe there is a way, ICC can look at. Maybe restructuring the schedule or redoing the format.”

Similar to how “The Hundred” coexists with T20, Stokes recommended trying out 40-over one-day tournaments, which were popular in the English county circuit thanks to a competition called pro-40 that was held until a few years ago.

“You look at England now with ‘The Hundred’, they are making a completely new format but that still goes alongside the T20 version. Something can looked at. It is my own personal view that they could look at maybe turning 50 overs into 40 overs.

“When I first started playing professional cricket, there was CB40 and that was a really good format to play. Nowadays, it would just be an extended version of T20 cricket and I personally think you would end up seeing the same scores, anyway in 40 overs that you do in 50 overs.”

He believes that 40 overs a side might be the answer.

“Because there is so much cricket, is there a way that schedule and formats can be looked at to still keep the 3 formats, but maybe less cricket? If you look at 40 overs than 50 overs, I think that can be a solution.”

He wants the custodians of the game to give it some thought.

“I think there needs to a lot of thought put into it but the last thing you want I think for the sport, is that a certain format completely chucked away.”

Decision to retire from ODIs

For Stokes, the decision to stop playing ODIs was “difficult,” but he felt compelled to make it in order to advance his career.

“It is a pretty tough decision but at the same time, it made easy for me. I always had it at the back of my mind. That I would have to walk away from one of the white-ball formats.

“I just did not know which one. And I wasn’t going to make a decision until I was clear in my mind which one it was.”

The decision made quickly after receiving an internal call during the India ODI series.

“You hear people say who have retired from many things, they say ‘when you know, you know’. So it was after the first ODI against India at the Oval. When I finished that game it was my moment of ‘when you know, you know’.

“(It) Almost hit me in the face, just like that. As hard it was to know that I won’t be playing this format anymore. It also a decision that made easy because of how quickly it hit me.”

Docu-series to focus on mental health

Stokes has seen a variety of highs and lows throughout his colourful life and brilliant career.

However, there came a time in his life when he felt depressed. And realised he needed to prioritise his mental health instead of travelling constantly and wearing himself out.

Was it challenging for him to speak on such highly personal topics in a documentary about himself?

“When people say how hard it was? No, it not because when I decided, that something I want to do, in terms of making a documentary. I specifically said that I don’t want this documentary to be all about making myself look good.

“It is an opportunity for me to just show the people who I am. I think very rarely, sportsmen are able to do that,” Stokes said.

Sometimes, sportspersons are those alpha-males who seem imperturbable. And Stokes wouldn’t mind giving his fans a closer look in this documentary series.

“Sportsmen painted a picture of what people see of them on the TV. Whether they are playing or in media. It’s very rare that you get to see them in their own space, where they are comfortable in the environment.”

Stokes was clear with the makers that he wanted all aspects of his life covered.

“I have had so many things happening to me in my career, not just cricket, but personal life as well.

“It has been such a public thing, right from T20 World Cup 2016 to the Bristol incident. To the break I took because of my mental health. If I did not cover that, then I thought I wouldn’t be doing any justice.”