Memories of World Cup glory in 2019 convinced Ben Stokes to return for England title defence… but talisman has doubts over all-rounder role due to chronic knee injury

Memories of 2019 World Cup glory convinced Ben Stokes to return for England’s title defense… but talisman doubts role as all-rounder due to chronic knee injury

  • Ben Stokes has postponed a decision on surgery for his chronic knee injury
  • Bowling remains ruled out until next month’s tournament in India
  • He will play as a specialist batsman in a one-day international against New Zealand

Ben Stokes returns to one-day international cricket, still unsure if he will ever again be able to fulfill the all-round role he craves for England.

Stokes will play as a specialist batsman on Friday in the first of four 50-over matches against New Zealand that will act as a dress rehearsal for England’s World Cup defense, admitting he has put off any possible surgery on the chronic knee injury for the time being . do not leave.

Bowling remains out of the question, at least until after next month’s tournament in India, when Stokes vowed to reveal his plan to somehow return to the dual role that means so much to him and the balance of all England sides .

Whether that will include surgery or another lengthy period of rehabilitation for a complicated condition remains unclear. But for now, Stokes is happy to put off decision time on his all-around future so he can win another 50-over World Cup.

“I’ve had some good conversations with specialists in different areas around rehabilitation and a plan for the future after the World Cup,” said Stokes as England practiced at Sophia Gardens. “There will be a possibility of something happening after the World Cup.”

Ben Stokes (above) helped England win the 50-over World Cup at Lord’s in 2019

The English star has postponed a decision on surgery to win another World Cup

The English star has postponed a decision on surgery to win another World Cup

Exactly what that will be remains the big question, especially as any operation would jeopardize its chances of playing a full role in a busy 2024 that begins with a five-test tour of India, then continues with the IPL and will then see another Twenty20 World Cup. in the Caribbean in June and ends with 12 tests, all crammed in for Christmas.

“There will come a time when I will clarify what’s going on, but I don’t think it’s the right time to do that,” Stokes said rather mysteriously when pushed about surgery.

The sad truth is that we may never again see Stokes play a decisive role with the ball, either in his role as Test captain or in his newfound status as the talisman of both Jos Buttler’s white ball sides. “You have different thoughts,” Stokes admitted.

“At the end of the Ashes my knee hurt and I had another difficult run with the ball. You feel: ‘Is this going to bother me more?’ But then you pull yourself back from that, keep going and try to give yourself the best chance of bowling again.

“I’m going to work hard on it from now until next summer and make sure I do everything I can to play as an all-rounder for the next two to three years. I’m bored on the field if I’m not a bowler!”

For now, he could jeopardize part of next year – the IPL would surely be the first to be abolished – by coming out of the over-50s pension he instituted last year when demands to be a player of all sizes to be in an evolving cricket world became too much.

“The words ‘World Championship’ are quite inspiring,” Stokes said as he turned around 50 times after a decision he insisted was final even as recently as it was before the last Ashes Test. “Winning in 2019 was an incredible moment for the team and myself, and the idea of ​​going to India as champions and potentially winning two consecutive World Cups was a big part of my decision.

I wouldn’t say it was a hard decision. There were obviously a lot of things to think about. I had to see how I got through the Ashes and then think about all that cricket that was coming next year. When I actually had to make my decision, it was easy.’

Stokes returns in fourth in what is the first full-strength England side for an Over-50s series since that famous day at Lord’s four years ago when the Test captain inspired their World Cup final victory at Lord’s over New Zealand’ with the least effort’. of margins.’

But the big question to be resolved here in Cardiff, Sunday in Southampton and next week at the Oval and Lord’s is who will make way for what selector Luke Wright has said to become England’s World Cup squad ahead of Harry Brook.

England got themselves into trouble over Brook. Bringing Stokes back was a no-brainer but it remains unbelievable that Brook was the man who then missed the ball and England have seemingly spent the tied T20 series against New Zealand regretting it.

Stokes will play as a specialist batsman in a one-day international against New Zealand on Friday

Stokes will play as a specialist batsman in a one-day international against New Zealand on Friday

So Brook has been added to what was originally a 15-man squad for this series, along with Brydon Carse, and it looks like the Yorkshireman will now definitely head to India.

But Brook was absent from Cardiff on Thursday, along with one of the main candidates to make way for him in Dawid Malan, who went home to Harrogate to be with his wife who is expecting a baby in the next few days.

Both Brook and Malan have to report back in Cardiff, but they are unlikely to play in this first game, with the focus shifting to others suddenly under threat for their World Cup places in Jason Roy, Liam Livingstone and perhaps even David Willey.

“I know one thing,” Stokes smiled. “I’m glad I’m not making that decision!”