Ben Stokes was denied a fairytale ending to his One-Day International career but that didn't stop England white-ball skipper Jos Buttler from hailing him as a "fantastic ambassador" and a "once-in-a-generation player". The ace all-rounder couldn’t do much in his final ODI as South Africa thrashed England by 62 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
"From myself and all England fans, we want to say thank you for everything he has done in this format of the game. Three years ago (the 2019 World Cup final) will live long in the memory but every day he turns up, whether that be for training or in a match, he puts in 100 percent. He has been a fantastic ambassador for us in ODI cricket," said Buttler.
"We will miss him and 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. People who play like Ben are once-in-a-generation players, so it's a good challenge for us (as an ODI side) to work out our best way forward as a team without him.”
Talking to Sky Sports, England’s World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan said: "England will miss his all-round contribution - on the field and in the changing room. Possibly more so in the changing room.
"He is a true leader who drags people with him and makes people better players by making them believe anything is possible. It was a huge pleasure to be able to take the field with him for such a long time and for him to retire from this form at 31 years of age is incredibly sad."
It’s not going to be easy for England to find a replacement for someone like Stokes. They have been doing well in Tests but have strangely struggled in white-ball cricket. England lost the T20I and ODI series against India and were now outplayed by the Proteas.
“It certainly feels like a little bit of the changing of the times for us. We have to rebuild but at the same time we have fantastic players and others waiting to come back so I am very confident in the team,” said Buttler.
"We're probably moving through a bit of a transition phase with Eoin going and Ben going. That's the natural cycle of teams.”