Ben Stokes returns in England’s provisional World Cup squad

England have brought back Ben Stokes out of retirement for the World Cup defence. They have named a 15-man squad for the New Zealand series, which will also be their provisional World Cup squad.

England’s Test captain Ben Stokes has reversed his retirement from the fifty-over format to return for the team’s title defence in the upcoming ODI World Cup in India. The hero of England’s 2019 World Cup triumph will make his ODI comeback in the forthcoming series against New Zealand.

Stokes had announced his retirement from One-Day internationals last year, citing that playing across three formats was unsustainable for him. He had said that England shirt deserves nothing less than 100% commitment.

However, there was a constant sentiment that Stokes would return for the World Cup given how much he loves performing on the big stage. He was the hero in England’s ODI World Cup victory in 2019 and the T20 World Cup title in 2022. Stokes’ big-match temperament is second to none, and for that both England’s white-ball coach Matthew Mott and captain Jos Buttler wanted him back. 

Ben Stokes is back for the big World Cup

Luke Wright, England’s National Selector, confirmed Stokes’ return with a 15-member squad for the New Zealand series next month. Wright also stated the same group will be the provisional squad for the World Cup. 

“It wasn’t really a case of changing his mind. He was always interested in coming back. Once his body was in a good place and he’d had a rest, he was really keen to play. Who better for England to have someone like him come back for us? He loves the big moments. We’re all just so happy he’s back in the squad, I know it will give a big lift to the boys in that squad to have him back,” said Wright. 

However, Stoke will play only as a specialist batter given his struggles with knee injury, which had limited his role as a bowler during the Ashes as well. He was required to go through a knee surgery but now that prospect will have to wait until after the Test series in India early next year.

While England fans rejoiced Stokes’ return, the rising young superstar Harry Brook caught the harsh end of the stick as he was left out of the squad. Brook had an excellent Ashes and has been in incredible form but having played only three ODIs went against him, with England preferring Dawid Malan and Jason Roy. 

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England have picked as many as six pace options including a surprise call-up to Surrey’s Gus Atkinson. The fast bowler clocked 95mph for Oval Invincibles in the ongoing Men’s Hundred last week, and is in line to make his debut in both white-ball formats against New Zealand. 

England hoped they could pick another hero of the 2019 campaign, Jofra Archer but the fast bowler has not fully recovered from his long-term elbow injury. Wright informed that Archer is likely to travel with the World Cup squad as a reserve. 

Along with Atkinson, England’s ODI pace attack also features Mark Wood, Chris Woakes, Reece Topley, David Willey and Sam Curran. Wright suggested that England are likely to trust Liam Livingstone at number six, with the number seven spot going to either Moeen Ali or Sam Curran. They will have only one back-up batting option with Roy and Malan fighting for one spot. 

England are scheduled to play four T20Is from August 30th, followed by four ODIs starting from September 8th.

England squad: 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.

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