Ben Stokes staying sharp for Indian Premier League despite expecting tournament to be cancelled

All-rounder is one of the 13 England players due to feature in the competition, which has been postponed to April 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic

File photo dated 05-09-2019 of England's Ben Stokes. PA Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 25, 2020. England all-rounder Ben Stokes says he is gearing up for a return to the competitive arena in just three weeks with the Indian Premier League still scheduled to go ahead. See PA story CRICKET Stokes. Photo credit should read Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
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England's superstar all-rounder, Ben Stokes, said he is continuing preparations for next month's Indian Premier League (IPL), even though he expects the tournament to be cancelled.

Stokes, 28, is one of the 13 England international players due to feature in the lucrative franchise-based Twenty20 competition, which has been postponed to April 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, India entered a three-week lockdown period to minimise the spread of the virus, but IPL organisers have yet to call off the competition or delay it further.

"At the moment my next competitive cricket is going to be in the IPL," Stokes told BBC Radio 5 Live. "That hasn't changed yet so I have to think I will be playing on April 20.

"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. 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 because it doesn't work like that."

Stokes, who would play for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, is spending a prolonged period at home after England's tour of Sri Lanka was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Stokes said England's players were shocked when the two-match Test series was called off but that it was the right thing to do in the circumstances.

"When you put everything together in terms of where the world was with the coronavirus ... it was the wrong place to be at that time and everyone's health is more important than anything else in the world," he said.