In a surprising move, England Test captain and all-rounder Ben Stokes has withdrawn from the highly anticipated 2024 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Stokes, a key player for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), has cited concerns over his fitness and a desire to manage his workload, leading to speculation about his future in the franchise.
The decision comes amid Stokes' ongoing battle with a persistent knee injury, prompting the star player to undergo surgery ahead of the India Test series scheduled for early 2024.
Fitness for international duties
The England Test captain's absence from IPL 2024 aims to ensure his optimal fitness for international duties, with England scheduled to play a demanding five-Test series in India before the IPL and the T20 World Cup in June 2024.
While the Chennai Super Kings expressed their support for Stokes' decision, the franchise has yet to confirm whether he will be released from their roster.
The IPL has set a deadline of November 26 for franchises to declare their retentions and releases for the upcoming season. If Stokes is not released, the Super Kings will retain the option to keep him ahead of the mega auction for IPL 2025.
Stokes, who was acquired by CSK for a staggering 16.25 crore ahead of IPL 2023, had a limited impact in the previous edition, playing only two games due to his persistent knee injury. Despite his struggles, CSK went on to clinch the IPL trophy in 2023 without his active participation. The star all-rounder, who played solely as a batter in the World Cup 2023, has been cautious about his fitness, especially in the context of the demanding T20 format.
The Chennai Super Kings appear prepared for Stokes' absence, having tasted success without him in the previous season.
The team management is focusing on ensuring the fitness of their talismanic skipper, MS Dhoni, who had previously hinted at participating in his final IPL season after a triumphant win in Ahmedabad last year.