Ben Stokes

PUNE: All-rounder Ben Stokes never considered quitting the World Cup early to expedite his planned knee surgery, despite England’s upcoming Test tour to India in two-and-a-half months. “Going home would have been “the easy way out,” he said.

Stokes announced before England’s 33-run defeat to Australia in Ahmedabad last week that he will have surgery later this month to address the chronic left knee problem that has forced him to play as a specialist hitter since the beginning of July.

He anticipates that his rehabilitation will take between five and seven weeks, leaving him with a short turnaround before his Test team’s January journey to India. The first of five Tests kicks off on January 25 in Hyderabad.

Even after their elimination was certain, Stokes stated that he would not consider returning home before England’s remaining two group games.

“Just because things haven’t gone as we’d wanted, there were never any thoughts about leaving early, taking the easy way out. We came here as part of a team and we will leave here as one,” Stokes was quoted as saying ESPNcricinfo.

England captain Jos Buttler stated that there has been no discussion about Stokes leaving the squad.

“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 and qualify for that Champions Trophy. He wants to make sure we try and achieve that,” he added.

On Wednesday evening, Stokes slammed 108 off 84 balls against the Netherlands in Pune, putting them eighth in the group stage and moving into the last round of matches. It was his first World Cup century in what will most likely be his final World Cup appearance.

After missing England’s first three World Cup games due to a hip injury received while performing lunges in a hotel gym in Guwahati, Stokes stated that his physical fitness improved throughout the tournament.

“I have used the time between games to give myself a better opportunity [of recovering well] after the surgery. All the work in the gym doesn’t compare to what you go through out there [on the pitch]. 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,” he said.

The 2019 champions will take on Pakistan in their last match of the ongoing ICC World Cup 2023 at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Saturday. (ANI)

Also Read: ‘I knew that I’d be playing World Cup’: England’s Ben Stokes