But even after their elimination was confirmed, Stokes said he did not consider heading home ahead of England’s final two group fixtures. “Just because things haven’t gone as we’d wanted, there were never any thoughts about leaving early, taking the easy way out,” he said. “We came here as part of a team and we will leave here as one.”
Having reversed his retirement for this tournament, Stokes is highly unlikely to feature in ODIs after England’s final group game against Pakistan in Kolkata on Saturday. In any case, that will be his last 50-over match for at least 10 months: his surgery will rule him out of England’s tour to the Caribbean next month, and they do not play another ODI until September 2024.
Stokes was non-committal over his future plans on Wednesday night, saying that he had “no idea” whether Saturday will be his final ODI. Rob Key, England’s managing director, is in Kolkata ahead of the Pakistan game. “I’m sure there will be a conversation [with him],” Stokes said. “But I don’t know when that will be.”
After missing England’s first three games at the World Cup with a hip injury sustained doing lunges in a hotel gym in Guwahati, Stokes said that his physical fitness improved over the course of the tournament. “I have used the time between games to give myself a better opportunity [of recovering well] after the surgery,” he said.
“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.”