England managing director of cricket Rob Key has praised Ben Stokes for his “selfless” decision to ignore the “financial implications” of retiring from one-day internationals. Stokes will make his 105th and final ODI appearance at his Durham home ground against South Africa on Tuesday after taking his shock decision to quit the format 24 hours earlier.
Key’s first act after being appointed was to hire Stokes as England’s Test captain, but he knows the relentless fixture demands on top international players make it hard to feature in all versions of the game. While the monetary terms of Stokes’ central contract could come under review, Key feels England’s Test and Twenty20 teams will stand to gain enormously from the all-rounder lightening his workload.
“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. 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”, he added.
Key, who spoke to Stokes about his decision last Thursday, thinks the 31-year-old was also motivated by his desire to continue being a presence in both batting and bowling disciplines in the Test side.
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. “To do that he feels this is the best way. I’m hoping and I’m betting that this is what gets him up to 120-plus Test matches”, he further said.