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England to persuade Ben Stokes to come out of ODI retirement for the defense of the World Cup

Nov 15, 2022

Before the 2023 tournament, Matthew Mott encouraged the star to “do what’s right for English cricket.”

Could Ben Stokes be convinced to go for the hat-trick by ending his ODI retirement in time for England’s defense of their 50-over title in India next year? 

Stokes played pivotal roles in both thrilling World Cup final victories. The head coach of England’s white-ball team, Matthew Mott, believes he can be persuaded.

Following up on his 92 unbeaten runs (84 plus eight more in the Super Over against New Zealand at Lord’s in 2019), Stokes scored a crucial 52 unbeaten runs in England’s T20 final run-chase against Pakistan in Melbourne, solidifying his reputation as one of the greatest “clutch” players in international history.

But given that he is also the captain of a Test team that has recently improved its own reputation with six wins in seven memorable performances in the 2022 home season, he stepped down from the 50-over format earlier this year, claiming that it was “unsustainable” for him to maintain his peak levels of performance across all three formats of international cricket.

Mott said in Melbourne that he had not yet explored the idea of Stokes coming out of his ODI retirement. Mott took over as England’s white-ball coach at the beginning of the summer following a record-breaking tenure as the coach of the Australia women. Mott went on to support Stokes, saying that he should “do what’s right for English cricket.”

Stokes explained the details of his decision to retire from ODI cricket at the time. 

He acknowledged that the strain of maintaining match fitness across three different formats was too much for his body, and he added that with Jos Buttler now serving as the white-ball captain after Eoin Morgan’s retirement, he did not want to feel like “I am taking the place of another player who can give Jos and the rest of the team their all.”

Stokes’ choice is supported by the demanding nature of England’s winter itinerary, which includes three One-Day Internationals against Australia this week while the Test team assembles in the United Arab Emirates in preparation for their three-game trip to Pakistan.

Days after winning the World Cup, Moeen Ali, who will play in those matches, called the proposal “awful,” and Mott agreed, saying, “I can’t lie, it’s not ideal.” 

However, the abrupt shift in emphasis from 20 to 50 overs confirms the impression that the white-ball schedule has changed priorities as the 2023 World Cup approaches in less than a year in India.

Stokes made it clear that he did not want to be regarded differently from other players in England’s white-ball strategy, although his track record as a World Cup match-winner would seem to support him.

During England’s celebrations, which included Mott shaving his head after a bet with Sam Curran, Mott acknowledged that his thoughts had turned to those crucial team members who had not been present at the moment of victory, especially Reece Topley, who sustained an ankle injury after arriving in Australia, and Jonny Bairstow, who is recovering from a freak golfing accident.

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