Ben Stokes withdraws from T20 World Cup to focus on fitness

Ben Stokes has withdrawn from the upcoming T20 World Cup in the West Indies and USA in order to focus on regaining fitness. Stokes, who crafted an unbeaten fifty in the final of the previous edition in Australia to guide England to the title, highlighted that he intends to achieve full fitness in order to bowl again, and asked the ECB not to consider him for selection.

In August 2023, Stokes had taken a U-turn on his ODI retirement in the lead-up to the 50-over World Cup in India in October. The Player of the Match in the 2019 World Cup final had bid adieu to the 50-over format in July last year shortly after assuming the captaincy of the Test team, citing that playing all three formats had become “unsustainable” for him given his injury-prone body and the hectic schedule. Stokes’s decision to reverse his retirement came after the England team management expressed a desire to have him back in the mix for the World Cup title defence.

Stokes continued to lead England in Test cricket. However, with red-ball cricket taking a backseat till January 2024, the grounds for him to get back to the 50-over setup were fertile. It is noteworthy that while Stokes hasn’t retired from T20Is his appearances in the shortest format have been far and few in between, the last of which came in November 2022.