Playing a key role in England’s maiden World Cup triumph four years ago, Ben Stokes will hope for another scintillating show in the upcoming edition, which gets underway from October 5. The defending champions, who have been in breathtaking form, get their campaign underway against last time’s runners-up New Zealand at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, which is also the first match of the tournament.
Stokes, who came out of ODI retirement to make himself available for the World Cup, has already shown how destructive his addition could prove to be for the Three Lions. Playing his first series against New Zealand after a year, Stokes validated his inclusion in England’s World Cup squad with a 182-run knock off 124 deliveries, which featured 15 boundaries and nine maximums. It is the highest-ever individual score by any England men’s cricketer in the 50-over format.
While Stokes’ return definitely gives England more depth in both the departments, there have been criticism regarding his ODI comeback particularly from former Australia skipper Tim Paine. The wicketkeeper noted Stokes’ decision to be “selfish”, ruling it as unfair for them, who played for England in the last one year.
Ben Stokes in an interview with The Guardian responded to the criticism, wondering if his act can be deemed as “selfish”.
“Selfish? I’d like to think I’ve played enough for people to know that is not a word that applies to me,” he said. “I had to see how I felt after the Ashes. And I was cooked, taking naps for days after it. But once I thought about the World Cup, potentially defending it, it was simple. It was good to tell Jos. He doesn’t give much away but he was buzzing,” said Stokes.
Stokes also believes that England are in a strong position to successfully defend their title. Stokes feels the unit has enough depth and the experience of performing in crunch situation.
“I don’t think it’s arrogance to say we’re a very good team. We’re in the mix. And what we now have in our favour, I think, is experience of huge games – an edge against sides who don’t play as many,” he said. “I know franchise T20 cricket means a lot more players have been exposed to those situations; it’s great for that. But it doesn’t come close to wearing your country’s shirt, billions watching, knowing if you lose, you’re out,” said the all-rounder.