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BOTHAM WIDE OF THE MARK AFTER STOKES' ADMISSION

Durham Chairman unimpressed with Ben Stokes' Chester-le-Street absence

It seems criticism of the England and Wales Cricket Board for Ben Stokes’ absence at Durham on Saturday is wide of the mark.

In his Mirror Sport column Durham Chairman Ian Botham outlined his frustrations with the ECB’s decision to rest Stokes for England’s T20 against West Indies at Chester-le-Street.

England have named two 14-man squads for the forthcoming T20 and five-match ODI series against West Indies, with Moeen Ali and Stokes notable absentees from the T20 squad.

Stokes is yet to play for England at Chester-le-Street, so when it was announced he would be rested, there was understandably a level of disbelief among Durham supporters and administrators alike.

It seems as if Stokes has asked for the game off to recharge his batteries, however.

Botham wrote: “Ben Stokes being stood down from the T20 international on his home ground has left me bitterly disappointed.

“The ECB has decided that a T20 match for the world’s most exciting player – and a local hero to boot – is a game too far so he won’t be able to show his skills to the people of the North East.

“I feel so disappointed for them [the supporters] and for Durham cricket club that the chance to watch him put on a show – in the way he has done so far this year in the IPL and around the other grounds in England – has been taken away from them.

“I feel for the people at the club, who have put in so much hard work around this game and built a lot of our promotion around Ben, that he will not be playing after all.

“And after the time that we’ve had here, with the club being docked 48 points as well as all the rest, you do start to wonder why there has been another kick in the teeth.

“I don’t believe for one minute that Ben wouldn’t want to play in front of his home crowd. We would have loved to have him play and I am just bitterly disappointed for the public of the North East.”

The ECB take their fair share of flack from disgruntled fans who are denied watching their England contingent playing in county colours. However, Botham’s comments seem unfair, now this new knowledge has come to light.

Stokes told Sky Sports: “It was a collective decision from myself, Trevor Bayliss and the selectors.

"With the game being played at my local ground where I've played all of my cricket I understand that people are going to be upset.

"A rest can do your body a lot of good. It's just unfortunate that it's coincided with it being at Durham."