Bazball comes first over hit and giggle: Stokes pulls out of T20 World Cup to focus on Tests


England’s chances of retaining the Twenty20 World Cup have been hit for six with the news Ben Stokes has opted out of selection for this year’s tournament.

The mercurial Stokes will miss June’s World Cup in the US and the West Indies to focus on regaining his fitness ahead of the northern summer’s Test schedule.

England are the defending T20 world champions, having claimed their second title in 2022 in Australia.

The England and Wales Cricket Board said in a statement on Tuesday that Stokes’s primary focus “is to get fully fit to bowl” for the Test series against West Indies and Sri Lanka.

England’s Test captain, Stokes last played a T20 international for in the World Cup final at the MCG in November 2022.

“I’m working hard and focusing on building my bowling fitness back up to fulfil a full role as an allrounder in all formats of cricket,” Stokes said in a statement.

“Opting out of the (Indian Premier League) and the World Cup will hopefully be a sacrifice that allows me to be the allrounder I want to be for the foreseeable future.”

In November, Stokes underwent surgery for a knee issue which hampered his ability to bowl.

T20 World Cup

Ben Stokes will play no part in this summer’s tournament ????

— England Cricket (@englandcricket) April 2, 2024

The 32-year-old bowled just five overs during England’s 4-1 series defeat in India last month.

“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,” Stokes said.

England will play a four-match T20 series against Pakistan in preparation for the World Cup.

They then play group matches against Scotland, Australia, Oman and Namibia before the Super 8s and knockout stages.

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