Ben Stokes says he has “no idea” if England’s final World Cup outing will also be his farewell to one-day internationals.
Stokes retired from the 50-over format in 2022 citing an unsustainable workload, only to be tempted back to take part in England’s title defence.
Things have veered badly off script since he arrived in India, where he missed the first three matches with a hip injury and was unable to stop his side crashing out after six defeats from seven games.
England were grateful Stokes did not bring forward an upcoming knee operation once the semi-finals were out of reach – a notion he rejected out of hand with the mantra “never leave early, never take the easy way out, never leave your team-mates hanging” – but Saturday’s engagement with Pakistan will surely be his last stand.
With his primary focus on his role as Test captain, a T20 World Cup next summer and a period of post-surgery rehabilitation coming up, he is already being stretched thin.
But, asked directly if he was set for a second retirement, he kept his cards close to his chest.
“I’ve no idea,” he said.
“I’m sure there will be a conversation but I don’t know when that will be. I have used the time between games here to give myself a better opportunity after the surgery.
“All the work in the gym doesn’t compare to what you go through out there. I’m looking forward to getting it sorted and not having to worry like I have these past 18 months. From a physical point of view I’m better off than when I first got out here, but physical fitness and cricket fitness are two different things.”
Stokes had hoped to add another triumphant chapter to his World Cup story, adding to his starring roles in the 2019 final and the T20 success in Melbourne last autumn, but is now playing for a significantly lesser prize.
A 160-run win over the Dutch put England back on track to qualify for the 2025 Champions Trophy, with a top-eight finish needed to book their place at the competition.
Victory over semi-final hopefuls Pakistan should be enough to make it official and, even if that gets Stokes’ competitive juices flowing again, he will be leaving unfulfilled.
“If I’m there or not – who knows – I don’t think leaving here there’s any satisfaction for anyone to be honest, it’s been a very disappointing World Cup,” he said.
“We know we have performed nowhere near as well as we should have done at this World Cup. It was bittersweet to walk off with a victory because everything feels a lot better but we’re still very disappointed with how we’ve gone as a side.
“Unfortunately it’s not happened for us but we know how big this Pakistan game is. They are a quality team and we know the threat they pose to every team before a ball is bowled.
“There’s one massive game left for the future, with another tournament coming up. It’s not just a game to finish off a World Cup then go home, we’d love to leave with a winning feeling.”