Ben Stokes played his last ODI match on Tuesday against South Africa. He had a fiery farewell after the game. His sudden retirement was a shock to many. The 31-year-old Stokes is best remembered for his dazzling coordination in the 2019 World Cup final against New Zealand. England’s World Cup hero Stokes was blunt when explaining his decision to retire from internationals one day: “We’re not cars, you can’t just fill us up”.
But despite the fact that the 2019 World Cup winner has left cricket over 50 years old, a meaningful overhaul of the fixture schedule that England captain Stokes calls “unsustainable” is unlikely.
Watch: Ben Stokes Says Farewell
An inspiration. A legend. A champion.
– Mr. Cricket (@englandcricket) July 19, 2022
The international matches underpin a lucrative broadcast deal that the England and Wales Cricket Council has with Sky TV worth around £220 million ($264 million) a year and a major revenue provider for most of the top countries of the sport.
Since the beginning of 2017, England have had almost 500 days of cricket matches scheduled, overtaking India in second place with 472 days.
To make matters worse, a direct consequence of the coronavirus pandemic is that a number of delayed fixtures have been included in this year’s calendar.
Stokes was dropped from the ODI game after England beat South Africa at home to Durham on Tuesday, a match the tired-looking 31-year-old all-rounder lost 0-44 and managed only five by stroke.
He will still play Tests and Twenty20 internationally. The game comes midway through Britain’s 25-day program of 12 white-ball matches this month, with the Test team playing seven games in the 2022 season at home.
Stokes, speaking ahead of the game on Tuesday, told the BBC: “You want a product of the highest quality. You want the best players to be able to play as much as possible, all the time.
“We’re not cars, you can’t just fill us with gas and we’ll be out there ready to refuel.”
England white football captain Jos Buttler described his teammates’ retirement from ODI as a “wake-up call”.
There has long been speculation that men’s ODIs will eventually be squeezed out by the financial appeal of rival formats.
However, there are more than 50 World Cups planned in 2023, 2027 and 2031, as well as two Champions Trophys, in 2025 and 2029. The bilateral ODI chain appears to be more risky.
South Africa withdrew from the series against Australia in January – thus risking a place in next year’s World Cup in India – as it will clash with a new domestic T20 tournament. Cricket players in previous eras used to withdraw from all international cricket at once but the type of withdrawal announced by Stokes is increasingly common.
The lucrative Indian Premier League and other franchise T20 leagues mean that many top cricketers are less dependent on the national service for income.
Great England Player James Anderson and Stuart Broadthe country’s two all-time top test track athletes, both long retired from whiteball cricket to extend their careers in the five-day format, while the star player Joe Root no longer broadcast T20 internationally.
Of India Virat kohli still a cricketer of all formats but he hasn’t had a hundred internationals as of 2019. “You don’t want to dilute the product,” said former England Test captain Root ahead of ODI’s retirement. of his close friend Stokes. “You want to see the best of the best take on the best as often as possible.”
However, administrators have shown reluctance to cut back on the number of monetization devices. Last year, for example, the England team had to assemble a brand new 18-man squad, 9 of whom had never played ODI before, just days before the series against Pakistan because of the Covid outbreak but still won. 3-0 win.
Tickets for international matches in England often sell out long before and long before the team’s composition is known.
Would spectators stay away if they knew Stokes and other top stars weren’t playing? And will officials reduce their workload to make such absences less likely?
Former England captain Michael Atherton skeptical about whether the change is happening, saying administrators are only interested in cramming “as many crickets into the calendar as possible with as much money as possible”.
He wrote in the Times: “Perhaps Stokes’ sudden retirement from cricket over 50 years after the World Cup may be time for them to reconsider. Don’t hold your breath.”
With AFP input
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