'You might say it's disappointing but...': Ben Stokes breaks silence on injury-marred season with CSK in IPL 2023
Ben Stokes played just two games in a season in which Chennai Super Kings won a record-equalling fifth IPL title.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) looked like a well-oiled unit towards the end of the season as they romped their way to the 2023 Indian Premier League (IPL) final. Once there, they beat defending champions Gujarat Titans in a last-ball thriller that stretched to nearly three days due to incessant rain in Ahmedabad. They weren't looking that assured in the first half of the league stage though, chiefly because of the injuries that their star players were picking up.
The most notable among them was Ben Stokes, the ace all-rounder and England's Test captain. Stokes had come in with a lot of hype but he also came with injury troubles. With England set to embark on a big summer that includes the Ashes, Stokes had to take a backseat this season, just two games scoring 15 runs and taking no wickets in the one over he managed to bowl. He saw the lighter side of things talking to the media, comparing the role he played in the IPL final to former England football captain John Terry's as his club Chelsea won the 2013 Champions League.
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"I played a little bit of a John Terry role winning the IPL," the allrounder joked during press commitments at Lord's a couple of days after Chennai Super Kings won a thrilling final in Ahmedabad. Terry famously lifted the Champions League trophy in 2012 dressed in his full Chelsea kit despite missing the final against Bayern Munich through suspension.
Stokes said that he would have preferred to play every match in the 2023 season but then found a way to use a difficult situation to his advantage. "I think I would much rather have been playing," Stokes said. "I've then seen that as an opportunity to train as opposed to playing and then topping yourself up as the tournament goes along. Once you get into the tournament it's like play, travel, all that kind of stuff. So, I was actually able to turn a disappointing situation into a positive one because I was able to concentrate on properly being able to train, whether that be technical stuff with the bat or fitness stuff, stuff in the gym and being able to concentrate on something else.
"And that was a really good way to get through that long period of having something else to focus on, as opposed to being disappointed I wasn't playing. So looking back on it, you might say it's disappointing to only play two games but I was able to then do something else. Sitting here today, I'm actually thinking it could have been a blessing in disguise - every cloud has a silver lining," said Stokes.