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All-rounder Ben Stokes opts out of England's ICC T20 World Cup defence

Author : IANS

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New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) England all-rounder Ben Stokes has opted out of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, which will take place in the West Indies and USA, saying "he does not wish to be considered for selection" in his side's title defence in June.

Stokes primary focus is to get fully fit to bowl not only for the summer of Test cricket, which includes two three-match Test series’ against West Indies and Sri Lanka, respectively, but for all cricket in the future.

"I'm working hard and focusing on building my bowling fitness back up to fulfil a full role as an all-rounder in all formats of cricket. Opting out of the IPL and the World Cup will hopefully be a sacrifice that allows me to be the all-rounder I want to be for the foreseeable future," Stokes said in a statement released by the ECB on Tuesday.

"The recent Test tour of India highlighted how far behind I was from a bowling point of view after my knee surgery and nine months without bowling. I’m looking forward to playing for Durham in the County Championship before the start of our Test summer.

"I wish Jos (Buttler), Motty (Matthew Mott) and all the team the best of luck in defending our title," he added.

Stokes played a crucial role in the 2022 final, scoring the winning run and achieving his maiden T20I half-century as England defeated Pakistan by five wickets at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). However, since then, he has only participated in two T20 matches in Indian Premier League (IPL).

Earlier, after retiring from ODI cricket in the summer of 2022, Stokes reversed his decision to play in the 50-over World Cup late last year.

England’s title defence starts on June 4 against Scotland at the Kensington Oval in Barbados. They will then play group matches against Australia, Oman, and Namibia in Barbados and Antigua before qualification for the Super 8s and knockout stages.



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