Former England skipper Nasser Hussain has slammed the crammed cricket calendar and termed it "madness for players" after star all-rounder and 2019 Word Cup final hero Ben Stokes abruptly decided to retire from ODIs. Stokes, 31, shocked everyone with the announcement. He said playing three formats had become "unsustainable" for him. The first ODI against South Africa on Tuesday will be his last 50 over game for England.
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"It is disappointing news to say the least but it is a reflection of where the cricketing schedule is at the moment. It is madness for players," Hussain wrote in his column for ‘Sky Sports’. "If the ICC just keep putting on ICC events and individual boards just keep filling the gaps with as much cricket as possible, eventually these cricketers will just say I'm done. Stokes is done with one format aged 31, which can't be right, really. The schedule needs looking at, it is a bit of a joke at the moment," he added.
Stokes' ODI career will forever be remembered for his Player-of-the-Match performance in the World Cup final against New Zealand at the Lord's three years ago.
His unbeaten 84 helped to send the match into a Super Over as England claimed their first 50-over World Cup title in the most thrilling of circumstances.
"It came as a surprise, to be honest. It is a real shame because he gave us and England fans their greatest day for a very long time in 2019, a day we'll never forget with that World Cup final win. In a battle, if you ask me for one cricketer in the England side who's up for it in a tough situation, who's a winner - you can't teach that, you're not born with that - Stokes has that and he has that in abundance. That World Cup final, if there's one cricketer you want at the end battling, it is Ben Stokes. The same with the Ashes Test match at Headingley that same summer."
Stokes, who took over the Test captaincy from Joe Root recently, was slated to play all of England's ODI matches this summer and rest through the T20I series against India and South Africa. He had also said that he would give 'The Hundred' a miss.
"To completely knock 50-over cricket on the head is a massive surprise. I guess it's the schedule. The cricketing schedule is absolutely crazy at the moment," wrote Hussain.
Since his World Cup-winning heroics in 2019 Stokes has only played nine ODIs owing to injuries, mental health break and workload management. With the IPL set to have a dedicated two-and-half month exclusive window from the next Futures Tours & Programme (FTP) calender of the ICC starting 2024, Hussain feels 50-over cricket will face more casualties.
Another ex-skipper Michael Vaughan, on the other hand, feels teams will have to let go of bilateral series to cut down on the load. "Bilateral ODI / T20 series will have to go if all the boards around the world are desperate for there own Franchise tournaments !! Something has to give .. It shouldn't be players retiring from one format aged 31!!!!" Vaughan tweeted.
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