In a surprising turn of events, Ben Stokes is on the brink of a significant decision to reverse his retirement from one-day international (ODI) cricket, signaling his intent to bolster England’s World Cup defense in India later this year. This remarkable U-turn comes with the potential sacrifice of his participation in the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) season.
Having announced his ODI retirement in July of the previous year, Stokes’ potential comeback was always a possibility, especially for the World Cup, scheduled to be held in India this autumn. Sources indicate that Stokes has conveyed his willingness to reconsider his earlier stance to England’s management, positioning himself for selection in Jos Buttler’s squad. The selection committee’s meeting to finalize the squad is scheduled for Tuesday.
Persistent concerns linger about the chronic left knee injury that has plagued Stokes, raising the possibility of future surgical intervention. Reliable sources within the sports community have revealed that Stokes is willing to forgo participating in the next IPL season should his recovery necessitate a gap in his packed schedule.
Despite holding a lucrative contract with the Chennai Super Kings valued at £1.6 million annually, Stokes seems inclined to prioritize England’s World Cup campaign over his IPL commitments.
Furthermore, Stokes, who also leads as the Test captain, was expected to prioritize rest in preparation for England’s five-Test tour of India in the upcoming year. This strategy was designed to ensure his physical readiness for the rigorous tour; however, a recent twist reveals that he might be partaking in the World Cup instead.
Should Stokes make his return, he is likely to occupy the middle-order batting position for England’s ODI side. Recognizing potential limitations in his bowling contributions, England is considering deploying him primarily as a specialist batsman, a role he showcased during certain phases of the preceding summer’s Ashes series.
Notably, Stokes played a pivotal role in England’s victory in the 2019 World Cup, leaving an indelible mark with his performance in the remarkable Super Over against New Zealand. Additionally, his match-winning unbeaten score of 52 led England to triumph in last year’s T20 World Cup against Pakistan in Melbourne.
As the International Cricket Council’s deadline for submitting World Cup squads approaches on September 5, before England’s next ODI match, teams possess the flexibility to revise their selections until September 27. England faces four ODIs against New Zealand and three against Ireland in September before the final roster adjustments. Considering Stokes’ return, a cautious approach to his involvement is likely during these matches.
Furthermore, in line with earlier reports from Telegraph Sport, England’s intention to include Jofra Archer in the World Cup is becoming clearer. The fast bowler’s fitness status won’t deter England from considering his inclusion, even if it means deploying him selectively in pivotal encounters.
Though World Cup squads are officially limited to 15 players, teams are permitted to bring three additional traveling reserves. This development presents England with the opportunity to strategically manage its squad composition.
As the cricket world anticipates the imminent announcement of the World Cup squads, the potential return of Ben Stokes injects a new layer of intrigue into England’s preparations.