England are only ready to use Ben Stokes as batsman if they defend their 50-over men's world title in India after the Test captain reversed his decision to withdraw from one-day internationals. The all-rounder, who was suffering from a long-standing left knee injury that limited his bowling during the recent tie Ashes Test series at home against Australia, said playing in all three international formats was “unsustainable” when he was 13 away months ended his ODI career. The 32-year-old had planned to use a six-month break before England's next Test cricket match in India to get his chronic problem under control.
But he is now poised for a role as a specialist batsman as one of nine survivors named in a 15-man squad set to play in three home ODIs next month against New Zealand, which will also be England's side for a World Cup in India will run from October 5th to November 19th.
“It wasn't really about changing his (Stokes) mind,” said England international Luke Wright after Wednesday's squad launch.
“When his body was in good shape and he was resting, he really wanted to play. He still has time to rest and rehabilitate, which he is doing, and he says his knee is actually improving.”
“The only thing we won't do is push him to bowl unless he's absolutely fit and energetic. That was an important part of the decision for him to just be able to play as a batsman, and it was an easy decision for us.
“Ultimately the decision came down to our wanting to win a World Championship and we feel we are better and have more chances with Stokesy than without. If there's ever someone for the big moments, it's Ben Stokes.”
The return of Stokes, the player of the match in the 2019 World Cup final against New Zealand at Lord's and the man whose unbeaten fifty led his side to victory in the Twenty20 equivalent last year, comes at the expense of Harry Brook.
The Yorkshire batsman was the rising star of the England side last year. The 24-year-old has amassed four hundreds over 12 tests, posting hit rates of 98.85 and 137.77 in ODIs and T20s respectively.
“It's the toughest decision I've ever made,” said Wright, who described Brook as a “superstar” before adding, “But unfortunately, in a 15-man roster, someone has to miss something. On this occasion.” It was him.”
Speedy Surrey bowler Gus Atkinson, who has no international caps and has reached a speed of 95 mph (153 km/h), is also in the squad, seemingly as a cover for Jofra Archer.
The injured Archer, the super-over-star of the 2019 World Cup final, is currently recovering from his recent elbow injury.
Archer last played for England in March and Wright, once the 28-year-old's Sussex team-mate, said: “Jof has to have a duty of care, we know how desperate we all are.” We have to have him, there's no doubt about it, but we have to do it right for him too.
“As tempting as it is to persuade him to start this World Cup, unfortunately we're just running out of time.”
“The current best scenario for Jof would probably be possible until the end of the tournament. But of course a lot still has to work out in his rehabilitation until then.”
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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