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A day after making the shock announcement that he is retiring from ODIs, Ben Stokes stepped out at his home ground in Durham to play his final match of the format as England took on South Africa in their series opener. Stokes, who was Englands hero in their 2019 World Cup final triumph and through the campaign in general, said it was "unsustainable" for him to play all three formats and hence stepped away from ODIs. In a heartwarming gesture, Stokes led the English team out as they took the field.
The star all-rounder was visibly emotional as the crowd at Chester-le-Street gave him a rousing reception.
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CHESTER-LE-STREET (United Kingdom): Ben Stokes said on Tuesday he hopes his retirement from one-day internationals will serve as a warning to cricket chiefs over an increasingly congested global schedule, with the all-rounder insisting players "are not cars, you cant just fill us up".
Stokes was a central figure in Englands 2019 World Cup final triumph, their greatest moment in 50-over cricket.
But Stokes is making his 105th and final ODI appearance against South Africa on Tuesday -- a match taking place at his Durham home ground.
Stokes, who will continue to play Tests and T20 internationals, expanded on his decision to step away from the one-day game during a pre-match interview where he warned other players could follow his example.
"The more cricket that is played, the better for the sport, but you want a product that is of the highest quality," he told BBC Radios Test Match Special.You want the best players to be playing as much as you possibly can, all the time.
It isnt just me or us, you see it all around the world now where teams are having to rest some players in a certain series so they feel like they are getting a break.
"We are not cars, you cant just fill us up and well go out there and be ready to be fuelled up again."
Stokes, 31, added: "I just feel like there is too much cricket rammed in for people to play all three formats now."
Stokes said his retirement from ODIs, three years on from his player-of-the-match display in Englands World Cup triumph and just over 12 months from their title defense in India, had come earlier than expected.
❤️??????? pic.twitter.com/xTS5oNfN2j— Ben Stokes (@benstokes38) July 18, 2022
With me being captain of the Test team and how much cricket we have coming up, I do have to look after my body... But hopefully, when I am 35 or 36 and still playing Test cricket Ill be very happy with this decision I have made."
Since the pair took charge, England have swept a three-Test series against New Zealand before defeating India in the final match of a Covid-delayed series.
"Him bowling is actually the thing he wants to be able to do, he doesnt just want to go and be a batter, he wants to be able to contribute as an all-rounder," Key said.
"Im hoping and Im betting that this is what gets him up to 120-plus Test matches."