Ben Stokes has taken a leaf out of James Anderson and Stuart Broad’s book and wants to play 140-150 Tests for England. The 31-year-old announced his retirement from ODI cricket, saying it’s no longer sustainable for him to continue playing all three formats of the game.
The ace all-rounder, who is now England’s Test captain, will be done with the 50-over format after the first against South Africa on Tuesday (July 19).
"It was never going to be an easy one. Now being the captain of the Test team, and how much cricket we’ve got coming up, I’ve got to look after my body because I want to play for as long as I possibly can. I look at the way Jimmy and Broady’s careers have gone since they stopped playing white-ball cricket," Stokes told Sky Sports.
"I asked Stuart himself and said when you stopped playing white-ball cricket do you feel that’s a huge reason as to why you’re still playing now at 36. He said without a shadow of a doubt, yes. That’s what I want to do. I want to play 140, 150 Test matches for England. It’s come earlier than I would have liked it to, to give up one of the formats at 31.
“There’s the longevity I’ve thought about. Hopefully, when I’m 35, 36 still playing Test cricket and T20 cricket I can look back on this decision and say I’m very happy with the decision I made.”
Stokes, who played a massive role in England’s maiden 50-over World Cup triumph, said he wasn’t able to give his all during the India series and felt a bit useless. “'I always knew I’d have to choose one of the white-ball formats. I just didn’t know which one.
"After that one-day game, it just hit me in the face. I had a quick chat with Jos after the game. I said if the game was in a different situation I would’ve carried on bowling. We had a little five minutes together and he said you don’t owe the team anything. You’ve got a lot of cricket coming up. You need to look after yourself.
"When I went away after and had five mins to myself, I almost felt just a bit useless that I can’t do that. It’s not a nice feeling that I’ve got to look after myself. The captain’s trying to look after me, the medical team and the coach as well. It’s international cricket, you can’t be doing that."
Speaking to Test Match Special, he added: "We are not cars. You can't just fill us up and we'll go out there and be ready to be fuelled up again. We had a Test series and then the one-day team had a series going on at the same time - that was a bit silly."
Former India captain Virat Kohli called the all-rounder "the most competitive bloke" he has played against and Stokes returned the compliment, saying he has always admired the energy and commitment that the Indian star brings to the field.
"Look, Virat is going to go down as one of the greatest players to play the game in all three formats. He is a phenomenal player. And I have absolutely loved every time I have played against someone like him.
"The energy and the commitment that he gives to the game is something I have always admired even before I started playing against him. When you play against guys like that, you understand sort of what it means to not just yourself but for everybody else who was lucky enough to play at the top level.
"I am sure we will have some other battles on the field. It was nice to hear what he (Kohli) said.”