Over the years, the gentleman’s game of cricket has gained immense popularity in the world. Originating from the measure of racial equality and the political progress of colonial powers, Cricket’s growth is phenomenal. However, in the last three-four years, the game of cricket is experiencing a downfall concerning the quality of games, and the International Cricket Council (ICC) itself is considered as the main culprit.
Stokes retired from the ODI cricket
On July 18th, 2022, Ben Stokes, the cricket player from England announced his sudden retirement from the white ball cricket format of the cricket. He even didn’t finish the One Day International series with South Africa and playing the last match on July 19 on his home ground Durham, he rested his pads.
Speaking about the reasoning behind the decision he said, “Three formats are just unsustainable for me now. Not only do I feel that my body is letting me down because of the schedule and what is expected of us, but I also feel that I am taking the place of another player who can give Jos and the rest of the team their all. It’s time for someone else to progress as a cricketer and make incredible memories like I have over the past 11 years.”
The retirement is shocking considering his outstanding performance in recent ODIs. In the 2019 ICC World Cup, Ben stokes played an unbeaten 84 runs innings and took England to the World Cup dream with an outstanding batting performance in Super Over. His performance in every format of the game has been incredible.
Considering the performance, his demands also increased in the game. His presence in the England team not only increases the winning probability but also brings a positive impact on the revenue of the match. This increased the work pressure and caused huge physical fatigue to the player.
While talking about the physical fatigue to BBC’s Test Match Special, Stokes said, “I always want to contribute to the team, be on it 100% of the time. We are not cars where you can fill us up with petrol and let us go. It has an effect on you, the playing, the travel, it does add up. As I said, the schedule at the moment seems very jam-packed and it’s asking a lot of the players to keep putting in 100% of effort every time they walk onto the field”.
The rising popularity of players in different formats of games increases the demand for star players. These forces bind the star players to play every such game as the revenue of the game is also affected due to the absence of such players. In the environment, they ended up playing more games and incur huge physical fatigue.
Former England captain, Nasser Hussain, in his column for The Daily Mail, also raised the brutal schedule issues and performance thereof in ODI cricket. He said, “Every time Stokes goes onto that field, he wants to be 100% committed, not 80% – and that is what makes him the player he is.”
“Some might suggest 80% of Stokes is enough but the problem is that once you play at 80%, it can lead to a drop in performance in another format”, he added.
The ODI cricket involves 100 overs of the game with about 8 hours of time. In this scenario, a player’s limited physical endurance limits the performance quality of players.
Stokes’ retirement from the One Day International (ODI) Cricket is reflective of ICC’s unending cricketing schedules. It is the hectic schedule that has forced players to play and travel in successive manners. Without proper rest and break, players are forced to games. In this condition, not only performance of individual players are being affected but the overall game of cricket is also seeing a downfall.
The increasing popularity and short format of Twenty-twenty games have started to replace the ODIs series. Money, as well as time, is balanced in the shorter format, and players are now opting to play the very format.
Recently, South Africa’s Three-Match ODI series in Australia was cancelled to avoid the clash with Africa’s domestic T20 league. Further, to avoid clashes, ICC, in its Future Tour Programs (FTP) for 2023, has provided the Indian Premier League (IPL) with an official two-and-a-half-month window in which no international cricket program for men will happen.
The increasing interest in shorter formats will automatically downsize the growth of ODIs. It also must be noted that the ODIs are being systematically ignored by the ICC. In this condition, players do not have any option other than to withdraw or retire.
The wake-up call
If this continues for long, players will be forced to opt-out of ODI cricket and play the shorter format of games as they are good for revenue consolidation. Further, the shorter formats like Twenty-Twenty ICC events as well as the domestic leagues demand less time for physical endurance.
The retirement of Stokes’ is a wake-up call for ODI cricket. If ICC does not consider the genuine grievance of players and continues to mint money, the game performance will further degrade and lead to an overall fall in popularity.
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