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Ben Stokes schedule warning heard, says ECB chief executive Claire Conner

Ben Stokes has retired from international competition for one day but will continue to represent England in Tests and T20.

The England and Wales Cricket Commission’s interim CEO Claire Conner said Ben Stokes’ warnings about scheduling demands for top players were “absolutely” heard.

England’s test captain Stokes retired from one-day international competition last month, partly due to a grueling schedule.

He and Johnny Bairstow also left The Hundred to take a break.

“We need to listen to people who are expected to provide, entertain and inspire,” Conner said.

The former England women’s captain briefly stepped up from her role as managing director of ECB women’s cricket in June when Tom Harrison stepped down from his post as chief executive.

Connor will likely be in an interim role until at least the fall and has not ruled out applying for a full-time job. .

In an extensive interview, Connor told BBC Sport:

  • It’s a “big hit” for me. Hundred people Stokes and Bearstow go missing
  • The ‘healing’ process has begun following racism scandal
  • British cricket should prepare for more displeasure from an independent report on game fairness due later this year
  • Commonwealth Games women’s T20 tournament will paint ‘win-win’ for cricket to be included in Olympics
  • ‘Unpopular’ decision may need to take over domestic structure to benefit England’s men’s team

“We listened to Ben well.”

After announcing his retirement from ODIs, Stokes said:

“We’re not cars. We can’t just fill up. Get out there and be ready to refuel.”

Conor, who has more than 100 caps for England, doesn’t have ‘all the answers’ for easing a packed calendar, but he understands the need to limit what is expected of players. is doing.

“We have listened carefully to what Ben said,” she said. This is the Association of Professional Cricketers.

“Players are at the heart of what it takes to move the game forward.

The Hundred kicked off Wednesday with the defending men’s champion Southern Brave. Defeat the Welsh Fire comfortably.

Conner acknowledged the harmful absences of Stokes and international teammate Bairstow and the absence of injured England captain Heather Knight from the women’s tournament, but she said the tournament was suffering from “second season syndrome”. He said he would not suffer.

Connor pointed out that ticket sales had reached 500,000 before the tournament even started. That put him just 10,000 fewer than last year’s inaugural event total sales.

“The whole game should give you confidence that another glorious month of 100-ball cricket is on its way,” she said.

“Healing Begins”

Conner took over as chief executive following a year in which British cricket was embroiled in racism allegations from former Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq and others.

Rafiq called Britain’s games “systemically racist”, but the parliamentary report said that unless “continuous and demonstrable progress” is made to eradicate “deep-rooted racism” He advised that public funds should be withheld.

In response, the ECB announced in November a five-point plan containing “12 concrete actions” aimed at tackling discrimination and racism.

“The game came together and I said sorry to the people I let down,” Conner said. “We are not where we should be, but we are making really good progress.

“I think the healing has begun. We are still fully aware that it’s not the modern, inclusive sport that everyone needs to feel welcome.

“This is about making cricket a game for everyone, being gender balanced and contributing to communities that have let us down in the past.”

In June Yorkshire and a number of individuals were indicted by the ECB in connection with allegations of racism at the club.

One of the indicted former coaches, Andrew Gale, said he would not be involved in the process, was not interviewed by the ECB, and “has defined his life through unsubstantiated allegations.”

However, Connor said “absolutely” that the disciplinary process, led by the independent Cricket Disciplinary Commission, would be fair to all involved.

“I have no illusions about the health issues this is causing for so many people,” Conner said.

“I am fully confident that it will be robust and fair and come to the conclusions we need to reach in order to move forward.”

Aside from the racism investigation, the Independent Commission on Cricket Fairness will issue a report later this year.

“I don’t think we should be under the illusion that the game probably has another uncomfortable period to accept and grow,” added Conner.

“I believe what they tell us is a fair portrayal of our reality and the truth that cricket still needs to improve on. We have to accept that.”

Possibility of ‘unpopular’ decisions in domestic matches

Former England captain Andrew Strauss is leading a ‘High Performance Review’ to make the men’s national team the best in the world in all three formats.

Part of the review may include recommendations for changes in the structure of domestic games.

On Wednesday, The Cricketers reported on a fan poll that showed opposition to a cut in the number of games at the County Championship, and Stokes appeared to support it on Twitter.

“Really bloody,” he wrote.

Conor explained that it was too early to know what the recommendations would be, but said an “unpopular” decision could be made if it was for the improvement of the England team.

“A key mission of the High Performance Review is for England’s men’s team to be the best in the world in three formats,” she said.

“The men’s national structure is a central part of where players are developed and how British cricket as a system plays a role in its overall ambition.

“This is an opportunity for cricket to move forward and bring about systemic improvements.”

’50-50′ on 2028 Olympic inclusion

Connor has admitted she was “shed in tears” when she saw the England team attend the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, marking cricket’s return to the event after 24 years. , the T20 tournament for women was held.

More than 150,000 tickets have been sold for matches at Edgbaston, meaning the game has a higher average attendance than any other global women’s cricket tournament.

Connor admitted he’s “50/50” on whether cricket will make it to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, but believes the Commonwealth’s success will boost the bid.

“When you look at the numbers, ticket sales and momentum in women’s sports, it paints a positive picture,” she said.

“Conversations are ongoing with the ICC and the International Olympic Committee about how cricket might work in the 2028 Olympics and what it will be. Will it be a minors tournament, men? And women, or just women? Done.”

When asked if she wanted to keep the CEO position permanently, Connor admitted she wasn’t “put off” by her temporary time in the role.

“It’s an honor to be in this position,” she said. “I’m enjoying it and I’ll see where I am in the coming months.”

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