Stokes happy to prioritise England over IPL

Ben Stokes has no qualms about having to miss the IPL final with Rising Pune Supergiant, saying England duties will always take precedence over domestic competitions.

Having cost Pune over $2million - a record for an overseas player - Stokes rewarded his team with a string of brilliant performances, scoring 316 runs, taking 21 wickets and displaying his prowess in the field with a number of stunning catches. The all-rounder's efforts were enough to see him crowned the Most Valuable Player in the competition as Pune finished second in the points table.

But Stokes was absent in the play-offs, where Pune reached the final before losing by one run to Mumbai Indians in a thrilling contest.

Kevin Pietersen, former T20 star turned commentator for this year's IPL, blasted the decision for Stokes to join up with an England training squad in Spain, rather than compete for Pune, but the 25-year-old is happy with his lot.

"There was a lot of stuff around saying I should have been able to play but it was agreed from the start... that was as long as I was going to stay regardless of what happened," he said.

"It's timing. I still managed to play 14 games in the group stages. It was an amazing experience but I won't be too disappointed that I wasn't out there playing.

"Playing for England is always the main priority in decisions like that. It was made very clear at the start of the tournament. The team and management of Pune were always aware of that, so I can't really add too much."

The international camp helped England tune up ahead of South Africa's visit, which begins with the first of three ODIs at Headingley on Wednesday, ahead of next month's Champions Trophy.

"It's always exciting to play in front of a home crowd and it's a massive series against South Africa," he said. 

"They're a very strong side and the Champions Trophy is the eight best in the world. Any team can beat anyone, so we're looking at it as a good run-in to the tournament and some good competitive cricket.

"We're hoping to take some momentum in, being one of the favourites. We've been amazing the last two years and we go into this knowing that teams are maybe fearing us."

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