England’s all-rounder Ben Stokes has confirmed his retirement from ODI cricket, a day short of the first match against South Africa, set to be played tomorrow. Which is a fitting farewell, since Stokes will play his last ODI on home turf, at Riverside Ground In Durham.

“I will play my last game for England in ODI cricket on Tuesday in Durham. I have decided to retire from this format. This has been an incredibly tough decision to make. I have loved every minute of playing with my mates for England. We have had an incredible journey on the way,” wrote Stokes on Twitter. 

In April this year, the cricketer succeeded Joe Root as England’s Test captain, and the initial results have been convincing. Under his stewardship, England crushed New Zealand in the home series and then, levelled the Test series against India in Edgbaston.

He is one of the few English players to feature in all three formats. But with a jam-packed international schedule, it was becoming hard for Stokes to juggle between different formats. A year ago, he had taken an indefinite break from the game to prioritise his mental health, after losing his father to cancer. He also underwent surgery for a fractured finger before returning to the field in the Ashes Down Under.

“Three formats are just unsustainable for me now. Not only do I feel that my body is letting me down because of the schedule and what is expected of us, but I also feel that I am taking the place of another player who can give Jos and the rest of the team their all,” he added.

The overriding memory of Stokes’ career will be of his scintillating performance in the 2019 World Cup final against New Zealand, where he single-handedly took his side to the maiden ODI World Cup title. In the tournament, he amassed 465 runs at an average of 66.42.

Read More: Three Years After England’s World Cup Triumph, The World Is Still Debating Whether They Deserved It Or Got Lucky 

Stokes was an indispensable member, because his presence allowed England to play with an extra batter without weakening the bowling attack. It remains to be seen how they will fill the gap left by Stokes, just a year ahead of the ICC ODI World Cup.

Former Indian captain Virat Kohli congratulated Stokes for an incredible career. He wrote, “You’re the most competitive bloke I’ve ever played against. Respect.”

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(Featured Image Credit: EnglandCricket/Twitter)