Stokes gearing up for Indian Premier League despite COVID-19 lockdown - GulfToday

Stokes gearing up for Indian Premier League despite COVID-19 lockdown


Ben Stokes has signed to play for Rajasthan Royals and is one of 13 English players set to feature in the IPL. File / Agence France-Presse

England all-rounder Ben Stokes says he is preparing to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL), even though he knows the tournament is unlikely to go ahead.

Stokes has signed to play for Rajasthan Royals and is one of 13 English players set to feature in the IPL.

But the Twenty20 tournament has already been delayed until April 15 in response to the pandemic and India entered a three-week lockdown in a bid to contain the spread on Wednesday.

“At the moment my next competitive cricket is going to be in the IPL,” Stokes told the BBC on Wednesday.

“That hasn’t changed yet so I have to think I will be playing on April 20.”

Last week, the England and Wales cricket Board announced that the English county season would not start until at least the end of May, while England’s tour of Sri Lanka was also postponed due to the virus.

With IPL chiefs yet to call off or further delay their event, Stokes has to continue to keep himself in shape to play in the unlikely event he is asked to travel to India.

“I have to get my head round that I am playing even though in the back of my mind I know I am probably not,” he added.

“I have to build up and get myself physically in a position that if it does happen I am good to go.

“I cannot take three weeks off and expect the body to be ready for April 20 because it doesn’t work like that. It might happen and if it does I don’t want to be behind.

“There will be a lot of advice given to us and if it was an option to go we will have to take the sensible one.”

Stokes said England’s players were initially shocked when the two-Test Sri Lanka tour was cancelled.

But the 28-year-old is well aware it was the right thing to do in the circumstances.

“Everyone was shell-shocked for half an hour in the changing room. It was such a weird feeling because we had been there for 10-12 days. We were building up to the first Test and then we were going home,” Stokes said.

“But when you put everything together in terms of where the world was with the coronavirus, and what was being said on tour, it was the wrong place to be at that time and everyone’s health is more important than anything else in the world.”

And as there may be no training nets for them to attend right now but England captains Joe Root and Heather Knight are also still following personalised programmes even though no one knows when they will play cricket again.

Last week the England and Wales cricket Board announced a seven-week delay to the start of the 2020 season

The County Championship, which comprises four-day first-class matches, was due to start on April 12.

And although England’s Test series at home to the West Indies is not meant to commence until June 4 this may not begin on time either now with the ECB saying on Tuesday there “is uncertainty surrounding when, or if, the domestic and international summer will start”.

But each of England’s centrally contracted men’s and women’s players have been given an individualised training programme.

Test skipper Root, recently returned from a tour of Sri Lanka that was abandoned during a warm-up match, said: “While it has been good to get some downtime after our return from Sri Lanka, keeping my fitness up is really important so I can be at the top of my game when we get back on the field.

“I’m an active person anyway, with my young son keeping me busy, but having a structured plan will help me improve in certain areas,” the star batsman added.

“We’d obviously much rather be playing cricket right now, but this gives us an opportunity to recover from a demanding past 12 months and get our bodies in good shape for when matches resume.”


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