Image courtesy of: Zimbio
England all-rounder Ben Stokes has said that he has no regrets over missing the Indian Premier League (IPL) final on Sunday.
Stokes returned home prior to the start of the IPL playoffs and could only watch as the Rising Pune Supergiants suffered an agonising one-run loss to the Mumbai Indians.
Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen slammed the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for recalling Stokes, but the 25-year-old, who travelled to Spain with the rest of his England team-mates for a training camp, had no problem with the decision made by the board.
“There was a lot of stuff around saying I should have been able to play but it was agreed from the start…that was as long as I was going to stay regardless of what happened,” he said. “I don’t know, it’s timing. I still managed to play 14 games in the group stages.
“It was an amazing experience but I won’t be too disappointed that I wasn’t out there playing. Playing for England is always the main priority in decisions like that, it was made very clear at the start of the tournament.
“The team and management of Pune were always aware of that, so I can’t really add too much.”
Having scored 316 runs, which included a century and a fifty, at an average of 31.60 and taken 12 wickets at an average of 26.33, Stokes admitted that he learnt a lot during his IPL stint and added that more England players should be given the opportunity to play in the star-studded tournament.
“Everyone who goes there becomes a better player,” he said. “It would be great in the future if maybe the whole England team could be out there.
“It’s not just the fact of playing in the tournament, it’s the exposure you get as a player. Playing in high pressure situations against all the best players in the world at what they do – guys bowling at 150kph [93mph] and guys knocking it out of the park if you do not hit the areas you want to bowl.”
Despite the Supergiants paying a whopping INR 14.5 crore for Stokes at the IPL auction in February, which made him the highest paid overseas player in the history of the competition, Stokes was more grateful to have received the chance to feature in the tournament.
“To be part of a competition like that was an amazing experience – the biggest Twenty20 competition in world cricket – [as was] being able to share a changing room with the greatest players in the world, the greats of the game of cricket,” he said. “I didn’t go into the tournament worrying about [the fee]. The biggest thing for me was making sure I left a good impression with my performances on the field.
“That’s what we pride ourselves on as cricketers. All the pressure I put on myself was wanting to perform on the pitch.”
Meanwhile, with England hosting the Champions Trophy next month, Stokes pointed out that his side have “earned the right to be favourites”.
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“We are just going to try to do what we have been doing over that last two years which is to go out there and perform to the best of our capabilities and always want to be on the front foot,” he said. “We’ve always known that we are a destructive outfit so when other opponents are saying that they don’t like bowling at Jos [Buttler], for instance, at the end, you know what they are going through at the end of the mat.”
However, prior to the Champions Trophy, England will take on South Africa in a three-match ODI series. In Stokes’ eyes, this presents the national team with the perfect opportunity to prepare for the ‘mini World Cup’ in June.
“South Africa are one of the best teams in the world,” he added. “They have got some of the best players in the world as well so it’s a good opportunity to get into some form leading into the Champions Trophy.”