England Test captain Ben Stokes believes the quality of international cricket is being harmed by the sport’s scheduling.
Stokes retired from one-day internationals in the summer, saying it was “unsustainable” for him to play in all three formats.
Speaking to the Today programme on BBC Radio Four, Stokes, who played a leading role in England’s 50-over World Cup win in 2019, said: “It really has an impact on the multi-format players and people who want to play all three forms.
“Obviously you want international cricket to be at the highest standard whenever you possibly can but over the last few years I think you’ve seen a lot of different squads being picked, a lot of different players coming in, coming out, being rested.
“And I don’t think that’s the way for international cricket to go. The scheduling and everything like that I think just doesn’t get as much attention given to it as it should.”
England have played five Test series in 2022, winning the last three – with nine wins in their last 10 Tests – after Stokes took over as captain and Brendon McCullum as head coach in the summer.
Their commitment to attacking cricket has revitalised the team, and the renewed excitement it has generated in the format has been heartening for Stokes.
“Over the last few years we’ve seen Test cricket be spoken about in a way which I don’t like, losing its attention to the fans and everybody with all the new formats and the T20 franchise competitions around the world,” Stokes said.
“We do understand there’s so many opportunities out there for individuals away from Test cricket but, for me, Test cricket is so, so important for this game and always should be. I absolutely love playing Test cricket.
“I felt as if we could do something different. Taking results and everything like that away from the worries and the mindset of the people in the squads I think was a great starting point.
“If people turn up and can be really excited about the day of cricket that they’re going to come and watch then I feel as if you’ve already won.
“We know we’ve got a really special opportunity here to do something bigger than ourselves and we’ve got a group of players who understand that.”
Stokes takes ‘huge pride’ from mental health break
Stokes’ impressive year as Test skipper in 2022 came after having a six-month break from cricket last year due to a finger injury and to prioritise his mental health.
“I felt I needed to obviously take a break, and I felt I needed some help to get me back to where I am today, and to get me back on the field from after I took the break,” Stokes said.
“I didn’t ever really have an issue with coming out and expressing my feelings and opening up about it, because obviously I went into detail a lot in my documentary that I did about my break and how I was feeling, and the steps I took to get me back to a certain place.
“Out of all of that I can’t tell you how much pride that I felt in myself in doing that, and some of the messages I received from people I don’t know who have never met me. But that’s why I took huge pride out of it, putting myself in the public eye, and that it’s actually really helped a lot of people.
“I feel as if men in particular, because that’s where the stigma is, the more men that can do it, great, because I feel if you do, you’re going to help a lot more people around the world who are in a similar situation to you.”