Ben Stokes: England all-rounder set for Cricket World Cup after finishing ODI retirement

  • By Stephan Shemilt
  • Chief Cricket Writer

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Ben Stokes will be part of England’s World Cup squad after reversing his decision to retire from international one-day cricket.

Stokes is included in the 15-man squad for the series against New Zealand, who will also play in the World Cup.

Hitters Harry Brook and Ben Duckett have been out, while pitcher Jofra Archer won’t be fit in time.

Unlimited Surrey fast bowler Gus Atkinson, 25, is included in a group to be led by Jos Buttler.

England will defend the trophy in India in October and November, having won it at home four years ago.

Their first game is against New Zealand, a repeat of the exciting 2019 final, in Ahmedabad on October 5.

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England win Cricket World Cup final – recap

England squad for ODI series against New Zealand: Jos Buttler (captain), Moeen Ali, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, David Willey, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes.

England team for the T20 series against New Zealand: Jos Buttler (captain), Rehan Ahmed, Moeen Ali, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Harry Brook, Sam Curran, Ben Duckett, Will Jacks, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Josh Tongue, John Turner, Luke Wood.

England can still make changes to their World Cup squad until September 28, but barring injuries, these 15 players will make the trip.

There are nine survivors of the England team that won the World Cup over 50 for the first time, including Stokes, who was man of the match in the final.

The all-rounder withdrew from ODIs in July last year, saying playing three formats was “untenable”. He went on to captain the England Test team and play in T20 internationals, going on to have a starring role in the final when England lifted the World Cup in the shorter format last November.

As recently as last month, he reiterated that he was still retired from ODIs and had planned to use a six-month break from Test cricket to address a long-term problem with his left knee.

However, white ball manager Matthew Mott said that captain Buttler would approach Stokes for a return, which resulted in their inclusion for all four games against New Zealand in September and the World Cup that follows.

“It wasn’t really a case of changing his mind. He was always interested in coming back,” said national selector Luke Wright.

“It wasn’t a case of needing to beg him or anything like that, he was always up for it, so it was actually pretty straightforward. Once his body was in a good place and he had rested, he was really eager to play.”

Given his knee problems, Stokes’ role on the ball will be limited, but England have flexibility through the all-rounders Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes.

His inclusion as a batsman excludes Yorkshire’s Brook, who has done so much to impress in all formats since making his England debut last year.

“It’s the hardest decision you can make,” Wright said. “There’s no question he’s someone we can’t think of better. But it’s just that middle order with Stokesy coming back, that he was going to push, made it incredibly difficult.”

The 28-year-old Archer defeated the super in England’s final win four years ago but has been plagued by injury for almost as long since.

He missed the entire summer at home with a recurrence of a stress fracture in his elbow and although he returned to training with Sussex, it was felt that the World Cup had come too soon.

The best-case scenario for Archer would be to travel as one of three reserves, potentially eligible to play in the second half of the tournament.

“There has to be a duty of care with Jof,” Wright added. “We know how desperate we all are to have him, but we also have to do well for him.

“He’s been very unlucky with these injuries, [so] we have to do it right. As much as the temptation is to try to rush him in for the start of this World Cup, unfortunately we will run out of time.”

With Archer unavailable, Atkinson, who has only played in two List A matches, will provide a high-paced option alongside Mark Wood.

Lefties Reece Topley and David Willey are also included. For Topley it’s another shot at World Cup glory after being ruled out of last year’s T20 triumph with an ankle injury, while Willey can finally play in an over-50 World Cup after having been omitted from the 2019 team.

Hitters Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy and Joe Root, as well as spinner Adil Rashid, were part of the contingent that played four years ago.

Buttler will lead in a World Cup over 50 for the first time, having replaced the retired Eoin Morgan last year. It was Buttler who led England to the T20 title in Australia, making them the first men’s team to hold both world cap titles simultaneously.

Now, they are bidding to become the first men’s team to defend a World Cup over 50 and the first non-host team to win it since Australia in 2007.

The ODI series against New Zealand is preceded by four T20s against the Black Caps, starting on August 30.

England have named a 15-man squad for that contest, including Atkinson and fellow no-limit bowlers Josh Tongue and John Turner. Rehan Ahmed, the 19-year-old leg spinner, also gets the nod.

After the series against the Black Caps, England will also play three ODIs against Ireland at the end of September. Given the proximity of those matches to the World Cup, several players will be rested and a new team will be named at a later date.

‘No one will write off this team’ – analysis

Jonathan Agnew, BBC Cricket Correspondent

The only problem was the fitness of his knee but, with a break rescheduled for treatment that takes him out of the IPL next year, he is looking forward to a sustained recovery period that will take him to the next Ashes in Australia.

Of course, this team looks better with him in it: four [players] Bowl Spin, there’s genuine pace in Wood and Atkinson, plenty of all-rounders and attacking batsmen, and while India will be a tough place to defend their crown, no one will write this team off.

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