Stokes not ready for 'the easy way out' by leaving World Cup for knee surgery

Stokes not ready for 'the easy way out' by leaving World Cup for knee surgery

Ben Stokes never contemplated leaving the World Cup early to bring forward his impending knee surgery, despite England’s Test tour to India looming in two and a half months. Returning home, he claimed, would have been “the easiest way out.”
Stokes revealed before England’s 33-run loss to Australia in Ahmedabad last week that he will undergo surgery later this month in a bid to resolve the chronic left knee problem that has seen him play as a specialist batsman since early July. . He expects his rehabilitation to last between five and seven weeks, leaving a short recovery period before his Test team tour to India in January. The first of the five Tests begins on January 25 in Hyderabad.

But even after his elimination was confirmed, Stokes said he did not consider returning home before England’s final two group matches. “Just because things haven’t gone our way, we never thought about leaving early, taking the easy way out,” he said. “We came here as part of a team and we will leave here as one.”

Jos Buttler, the England captain, said there had been no talk about Stokes leaving. “It’s not his style at all: he’s here to play in the World Cup. He wants to be here and it’s important for us to try to qualify for the Champions Trophy. He wants to make sure we try and make it.”
Stokes significantly improved England’s prospects of qualifying for that tournament in 18 months’ time on Wednesday night, hitting 108 off 84 balls against the Netherlands in Pune to put them seventh in the group stage heading into the final round of matches. It was his first century in the World Cup, in what will probably be his penultimate appearance in the World Cup.

Having reversed his retirement for this tournament, Stokes is highly unlikely to feature in ODIs after England’s final group match against Pakistan in Kolkata on Saturday. In any case, that will be his last 50-over game for at least 10 months: his surgery will rule him out of England’s tour of the Caribbean next month, and they will not play another ODI until September 2024.

Stokes was noncommittal about his future plans on Wednesday night, saying he had “no idea” whether Saturday will be his last ODI. England manager Rob Key is in Calcutta ahead of the game against Pakistan. “I’m sure there will be a conversation [with him]”Stokes said. “But I don’t know when that will be.”

After missing England’s first three World Cup matches with a hip injury sustained doing lunges in a hotel gym in Guwahati, Stokes said his fitness improved throughout the tournament. “I have taken advantage of the time between games to give myself a better opportunity [of recovering well] after surgery,” he said.

“All the work in the gym doesn’t compare to what you go through out there.” [on the pitch]. I really want to solve it and not have to worry like I have these last 18 months. From a physical point of view, I am better than when I first came here. But physical fitness and cricket fitness are two different things.”