Closed door games won't make cricket less competitive: Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes says he wouldn’t mind international cricket becoming a ‘TV only sport’ till the coronavirus pandemic is under control.

Ben Stokes

England all-rounder Ben Stokes feels cricket on TV is the best option for the time being.   -  AP

England’s World Cup hero Ben Stokes feels cricket will not lose its competitive spirit if it is played behind closed doors and says he wouldn’t mind international cricket becoming a ‘TV only sport’ till the coronavirus pandemic is under control.

Voicing his opinion on whether the upcoming England-West Indies series at home would will lose its sheen if played behind closed doors, he told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I don’t think so. Think about it, we are walking out to represent our country, three lions on our chest and there is game that we are supposed to win. So whether it is in front of nobody or like we are used to in-front of full crowd, I don’t think it’s going to take that competitive side away.”

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The England all-rounder admitted it will take time to adjust to the possible scenario after being used to playing in packed stadiums.

“Yeah, completely different scenario to get our heads around that there isn’t going to be the atmosphere or cheering (of supporters) when we play international games,” said the 28-year-old, who has played 63 Tests, 95 ODIs and 26 T20Is.

He added that cricket on TV is the best option for the time being. “We would do anything to get cricket back on TVs, and people, who follow and watch. If that means playing in-front of nobody then so be it,” he said.

- Closed door games will take cricket back to its purest form -

Stokes' team-mate Jos Buttler said it closed door games will be “strange” but it will also take the game back to its “most purest form” when no one watched the players compete.

“An interesting thought about when cricket returns, if it comes behind closed doors and there is no fans and stuffs, I know that will be really strange for professional cricketers but in a funny sort of way it will take you back to what it was like when you first started,” Buttler said in an interview to Lancashire Cricket.

“There is no one watching you and you are playing because you love the game. I know it will be different because you have experienced the other side of it but that is the most purest form of cricket, isn’t it?”

- Safety top priority -

Stokes stressed that the safety and well-being of everyone would remain the top priority. “We are still not hundred percent sure when that’s going to happen. Everybody’s concern at the moment is safety and well being of everybody.

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“Players and ECB are not going to push anything until everybody is satisfied, without being having to worry about whether people are going to be exposed or put in danger to anything,” he said.

“At the end of the day, cricket is just a sport and its the safety, health and well-being of everybody involved, not just in the team but around cricket community is important right now,” he added.

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