Stokes Retirement A Game-changer For Pointless ODI Series

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Stokes retirement a game-changer for pointless ODI series. Keshav Maharaj will captain South Africa in the absence of the injured Temba Bavuma

Stokes Retirement A Game-changer For Pointless ODI SeriesKeshav Maharaj will captain South Africa in the absence of the injured Temba Bavuma

South Africa's chances of winning their ODI series in England improved exponentially just more than 24 hours before the start of the ODI rubber in Durham on Tuesday. Hold that thought: their chances will improve after the match.

That's the likely immediate impact of Ben Stokes' announcement on Monday that Tuesday's match would be his last 50-over international. “As hard as a decision as this was to come to, it's not as hard [as] dealing with the fact I can't give my teammates 100% of myself in this format anymore,” the explosive allrounder wrote in a statement. “The England shirt deserves nothing less from anyone who wears it. Three formats are just unsustainable for me now.”

England were in action on 11 of the first 17 days of July, and are scheduled to be busy on six more days before next month's three Tests against the South Africans. Something had to give, and for Stokes that was ODI cricket. His move will fuel the debate on the growing amount of cricket top players are expected to deliver, particularly in what increasingly is seen as the least fashionable format.

“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 [captain] Jos [Buttler] and the rest of the team their all,” Stokes wrote.

Whatever Stokes does or doesn't do on Tuesday, he won't be able to hurt South Africa for the rest of the series. But doubtless he will be determined to go out with a bang, especially as he will take his final bow on his home ground.

Stokes' batting average in his eight games against South Africa – 44.50 – is only just in the top half of the 10 teams he has faced, although they conceded one of his three centuries. He has a better bowling average against four teams than his South Africa mark of 36.57.

But he is always capable of the outrageous, and that scares opponents. Stokes hammered South Africa's bowlers to all parts for his 79-ball 89 in the opening match of the 2019 World Cup at the Oval, and then dived full length, super hero style, to take a reverse cup catch that denied Andile Phehlukwayo a six over midwicket.

Even so, whatever he does in Durham on Tuesday won't matter where it counts. Neither will whatever anyone does in the entire series – because it will not count for World Cup Super League points. Why, then, is it being played? Keshav Maharaj found himself in the invidious position of having to answer that question moments after he had talked up the importance of the standings that will decide which seven teams – besides hosts India – will qualify directly for next year's World Cup.

“It's good to have the Super League,” Maharaj, who will captain South Africa in the absence of the injured Temba Bavuma, initially told a press conference on Monday. “It makes you play your best cricket and allows you to come up with various styles of play that you want to implement at the World Cup. I think it's a good system. You've got to play your best team at all times. I'm in favour of it.

So what was the point of the pointless series that will start on Tuesday? “It's important for us as an ODI unit to keep playing together. The more you play the better you get. It's still an international cricket game, so there's enough motivation. And it's build-up for series that do carry points. I'm glad we're playing it leading up to an important summer and year for us. In the next two years there are a lot of ICC events coming up, and it's a nice way of finding combinations you want to play going forward.”

There was a more emphatic answer to the question in the fact that Kagiso Rabada has been rested for the series. Had Super League points been on the line, especially considering South Africa are 11th in the standings, there can be no doubt Rabada would have been picked.

When: July 19, 2022; 2pm Local Time

Where: Riverside Ground, Chester-le-Street, Durham

What to expect: Who can say? This will be the first list A game played at the ground this year. In the four in 2021, Surrey's 280/8 in a semi-final against Durham was the only total higher than 230. Seamers took all three of the four-wicket and all four of the three-wicket hauls on this pitch last year.

Team News

England: Having lost four of the six white-ball games they played against India in the space of 10 days, England are under pressure. Thing is, it's difficult to see what personnel changes could make a positive difference.

Possible XI: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (c & wk), Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone, David Willey, Craig Overton, Brydon Carse, Reece Topley

South Africa: The state of Quinton de Kock's bruised finger was the only significant issue in the visitors' camp. He's fit and available.

Possible XI: Janneman Malan, Quinton de Kock (wk), Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj (c), Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi

What they said:

“There's been lots of games in a very short space of time, which has been a challenge as well. It would be nice to have a day to reflect a bit and not always be thinking. It's been busier than I think it would be normally.” – Jos Buttler on his team's workload.

“There are two ways to look at it. They've been playing more cricket than us and have found combinations, but it is a point we could capitalise on and build some confidence in our ODI unit before the World Cup next year.” – Keshav Maharaj on England's cluttered calendar.

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