Ben Stokes’ ODI Return: England’s World Cup Focus

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Ben Stokes‘ potential return to ODI cricket takes the spotlight as England’s selectors prepare to meet on Tuesday, assembling a preliminary squad for the upcoming World Cup in India. The focus will be on reinstating Stokes, who had retired from ODIs last July but has reportedly signaled his willingness to rejoin the squad to defend their 50-over title in October-November.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Matthew Mott, England’s white-ball coach, highlighted that the responsibility of communication with Stokes rests with Jos Buttler, the team’s captain. Mott stated, “Jos will be taking the lead on this. We are yet to receive a definitive decision from Ben, but our optimism remains.”

The Telegraph’s report on Monday suggested that Stokes’ intent to reverse his ODI retirement aligns with England’s strategy. Consequently, he is anticipated to secure a place in their provisional squad. England’s selectors, meeting on Tuesday, will not only finalize squads for the upcoming T20I and ODI series against New Zealand, along with an ODI series against Ireland but also intend to employ the matches to test their squad’s depth.

Stokes’ Return and Squad Strategy

As they strive for optimal strength during the New Zealand ODIs, they are ready to take a proactive approach to testing their alternatives. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) aims to unveil the squads on Wednesday, possibly including the World Cup lineup. According to ICC regulations, teams must announce a provisional squad by September 5 and finalize the selections by September 28, providing room for last-minute alterations.

While Stokes’ potential return sparks discussions, the primary decision revolves around accommodating him at the expense of a reserve batter or a backup seamer. Given the injury history of key white-ball seamers, including the expected addition of Jofra Archer, the selection committee faces a delicate balance. Selecting Stokes alongside just five frontline seamers presents a strategic gamble.

While Stokes’ role as a bowler in India remains uncertain due to his lingering left knee injury, even a partial bowling contribution could enhance the squad’s flexibility. Anticipated in the squad are several other allrounders like Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, and Chris Woakes, who enhance the team’s versatility.

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