Ben Stokes returns for the defence of ICC Cricket World Cup

WITH their defence of the ICC Cricket World Cup on the horizon, England has named a provisional 15-man squad to take to India for the competition starting on 5th October.

The county of Lancashire is well represented with Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone in the provisional squad. But the big news is the return of the current England Test captain, Ben Stokes.

The man’s not for turning, is he?

When a guy like Ben Stokes makes a statement, he’s not usually one to backtrack on his words. So when Stokes sensationally announced his retirement from 50 Over cricket in July 2018, many thought that was the end of the subject.

So what has tempted the England allrounder to change his mind? First up, England has a great chance of winning the trophy again. The latest betting odds to win the competition see India as the favourites. But as hosts, the bookmakers are always going to make India’s betting odds shorter. In the latest cricket betting odds, India is 21/10, with England the second favourites at 16/5. This puts them marginally ahead of Australia, who are 4/1.

English Cricket is in a good place

The facts are that English white ball cricket is in a good place. At the moment, Jos Buttler’s team holds both the limited-overs World Cups.

They won the ICC Cricket World Cup at Lord’s in 2019 under the leadership of Eoin Morgan. They then followed that up by winning the T20 World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, in November 2022. This time under the leadership of Lancashire’s Jos Buttler.

When has there ever been a better time to be playing for England?

Stokes is a proven match-winner

The decision also makes sense for England, because Stokes is a proven match-winner.

In 2019, Stokes made 84 not out in the final, resulting in the game ending in a tie, and then going to a Super Over. Stokes was then sent in to bat in the Super Over, where he and Jos Buttler scored 15 runs to win the match and the World Cup. Stokes was named player of the match.

Then in 2022, Stokes top-scored for England with 52 not out in their five-wicket win over Pakistan in the final. This match wasn’t as close as the 2019 final, but when Stokes arrived at the crease in the 4th Over, England was 33/2 and the game was on a knife edge.

If Stokes hadn’t stuck around until the end, the result may well have been different.

Not everyone agrees with the decision to recall Ben Stokes!

Not everyone is pleased with Ben Stokes’s decision to reverse his retirement.

Former Australian skipper Tim Paine was quick to criticise, saying it was all about Stokes, and how it was unfair on the guys who have played for the last 12 months, who now have to go and sit on the bench because Stokes has decided he wants to play again.

Paine may have a point about the guys who have played while Stokes was retired. But as an Australian, he would also know that there is no room for sentiment when it comes to winning World Cups.

This is why England will feel the decision makes perfect sense.

Ben Stokes is a proven match-winner. He’s got the mental strength to get England over the line when the going is tough. The decision for Stokes to come out of retirement makes perfect sense. Surely, the bigger gamble would have been to have left him at home?

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