Ben Stokes skipping Men’s T20 World Cup not a massive surprise, says Michael Atherton

New Delhi: Former England captain Michael Atherton said fast-bowling all-rounder Ben Stokes ruling himself out of participating in the upcoming Men’s T20 World Cup is not a massive surprise, considering the recovery from knee surgery is still ongoing.

Stokes said on Tuesday that he does not wish to be considered for selection in England’s squad for the Men’s T20 World Cup, which will take place from June 1-29 in the West Indies and USA. He added that his focus will be on England playing two Test series against West Indies and Sri Lanka, starting from July.

“I don’t think it’s a massive surprise given that had already delayed his operation and recovery from his knee injury for the 50-over World Cup. He would’ve certainly been picked. He wants to get back to being an all-rounder in the Test team but England also have a very important 2025 when they take on India at home and then Australia in the Ashes.”

“Of all the three formats the T20 format, because it’s the shortest format of the game and is the one where players have a limited chance to stamp their mark, is the one he is the least valuable for England. I feel like England will start to inject some new blood into their T20 and 50-over side,” said Atherton on the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast.

Stokes had made an unbeaten fifty to lead a tricky chase and help England in beating Pakistan to win the 2022 Men’s T20 World Cup title at the MCG. Nasser Hussain, former England skipper, called Stokes’ absence for the side’s title defence of the trophy a big blow.

“It’s not a surprise but it is a bit of a blow. You want your big-game players. England had a very poor 50-over World Cup and you feel that Rob Key and the selectors are going to change a little bit.”

“I felt it was like a bit of the end of an era for that great white ball side that Eoin Morgan built and Buttler took over. They are defending champions of this title and you hope they will have a better fist of it than they did in India.”

“In a big game or during a semi-final you’d want to have someone like Stokes around but I think he’s made the right decision. He said it wasn’t just for Test match cricket, he wants to get his body right and wants to be an all-rounder in all formats of the game.”

Fast-bowler Ollie Robinson felt Stokes’ aiming to be back at his peak power for the Tests at home will happen after skipping Men’s T20 World Cup. “We all know how passionate he is about playing for England and also how hungry he is to get back to the top level and be the best all-rounder in the world. It’s going to be better to have the best Ben Stokes possible back out on the field bowling for England.”

England’s defence of the Men’s T20 World Cup starts on June 4 against Scotland at the Kensington Oval in Barbados, followed by playing further group matches against Australia, Oman, and Namibia before the knockout stages begin. – IANS

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