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England all-rounder Ben Stokes in action during his last One Day International against South Africa at Riverside Ground on Tuesday. Image Credit: Reuters

Chester-le-Street: Ben Stokes said on Tuesday he was retiring from One Day Internationals earlier than planned as the England Test captain hopes it will prolong his career into his mid-30s.

Stokes was a central figure in England’s 2019 World Cup final triumph, their greatest moment in 50-over cricket.

But the all-rounder made his 105th and final ODI appearance against South Africa on Tuesday — a match taking place at his Durham home ground.

Before his farewell match, 32-year-old Stokes reiterated his warning about England’s gruelling schedule.

Packed schedule

Tuesday’s game comes midway through an England programme of 12 white-ball fixtures in 25 days this month, with the Test team playing seven matches this season.

“The schedule for me feels unsustainable,” Stokes told Sky Sports News shortly before Tuesday’s toss.

“I didn’t like the feeling of not being able to contribute in the way I wanted to — as an all-rounder I wanted to contribute with the bat and ball.”

He added: “When I thought about it long and hard, I felt I don’t feel I can do that in all three formats. I always knew that at some point I would have to choose one of the white-ball formats.

“With me being captain of the Test team, and how much cricket we have coming up, I do have to look after my body. It has come earlier than I would have liked — at 31 giving up one of the formats.

“Hopefully, when I am 35 or 36 and still playing Test cricket, I’ll be very happy with this decision I have made.”

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Ben Stokes feels his body will not be able to withstand the gruelling schedule of playing all three formats, hence decided to give up the ODIs.

Decision hailed

Rob Key’s first act after being appointed as England managing director was to install Stokes as England’s Test captain.

He believes the all-rounder’s decision to bow out of ODIs is a selfless gesture given the possible “financial implications” in terms of a reduced England central contract.

“It may well end up having financial implications to Ben Stokes in terms of his contract,” Key told Sky Sports News.

“That’s why it’s a selfless decision, he could easily have said ‘no, no, I’m the key’ and kept getting picked in the 50-over team.

“But he wants to do the Test job as best as he can, he wants to take England’s Test team forward.

Revitalised England

“I was probably surprised at the timing but I’m not surprised that he’s had to give one format away. I think it’s a good decision from Ben that England will benefit from in the long term.”

England’s Test form has been revitalised under Stokes and new red-ball coach Brendon McCullum.

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 doesn’t just want to go and be a batter, he wants to be able to contribute as an all-rounder,” Key said.

“I’m hoping and I’m betting that this is what gets him up to 120-plus Test matches.”