Ben Stokes admitted he will have to think long and hard about whether to continue playing international one-day cricket for England after his side finished a disappointing World Cup campaign with victory over Pakistan on Saturday.
Stokes came out of international one-day cricket retirement to help England with their Cricket World Cup title defence in India, but the decision looked to have backfired as he, and the rest of the team-mates, were eliminated early from the tournament.
England did salvage some pride by winning their final two matches, with Stokes leading the way with the bat, as his big-hitting ton against the Netherlands and impressive 84 in Saturday’s 93-run victory over Pakistan gave a reminder of his capabilities in this format.
Whether Stokes, who is now set to have surgery to conquer his long-term left knee injury, puts off his second retirement from the 50-over game remains to be seen, given the injury problems he has endured in recent years.
“I think to answer that one it goes back to my initial reason for stepping away from this format, to ease my workload.” Stokes told Sky Sports. “As Test captain, there is a lot of stuff coming up. There’s a lot of stuff that I want to do with that Test team. It will be a decision that I’m probably going to have to think about, quite hard, to produce an outcome.
“You never know the body might be in a lot better position than it was in the last 18 months.
“I put a lot of hard work in away from cricket to give myself the best chance of a quicker recovery. And there is Christmas and everything coming up. The main thing to me is getting this knee right and being ready to go.”
England’s dismal display in India has led many to call for drastic changes in personnel within the camp – something the former ODI skipper is glad he does not have to worry about anymore.
“When you look at the personnel that we have available it is very, very exciting and it’s very, very good,” he added. “In terms of this group, that’s a decision that isn’t up to me. But I think everybody knows the class that the dressing room has.
“I think they’ll just have to do some kind of discussion, from the top, and see where people go.”
Buttler: We can be a top team again
England skipper Jos Buttler insisted England can be a top team in one-day cricket again, believing drastic change is not the way forward.
“It’s nice to put in a good performance,” Buttler told Sky Sports after the win over Pakistan. “The World Cup as a whole has been a disappointment. Wherever we go from here, today was a good day.
“It’s not going to be a drastic change of playing style, like 2015. We know where we need to go. That doesn’t mean a huge clearout, it’s just pushing on from here. There’s going to be little things that we need to add and improve and give opportunities and build something new. We need to use this as motivation to get better and become a really top team again.”
Buttler, one of several big names who failed to produce anything like their best form in India, also defended the decision to select Stokes, given he missed England’s first three group matches through injury.
“We should have been able to cope without Ben,” Buttler added. “Lots of us haven’t performed to the level we wanted to.
“We know what a class player Ben is and look at the game before this, he played fantastically well. Not having him available for a few games was always going to be a challenge. But we’re a good enough team to deal with that.”
The group stage reaches its conclusion on Sunday, with tournament hosts and unbeaten India facing a Netherlands side who are currently bottom of the standings (8am on Sky Sports Cricket, 8.30am start).
The semi-final line-up is now confirmed, with India playing fourth-placed New Zealand in Mumbai on Wednesday before Australia take on South Africa in Mumbai a day later. Build-up of those matches begins on Sky Sports Cricket from 8am on those days, with matches starting at 8.30am.
England, eliminated from the tournament, are next in action next month when they travel to the West Indies for a three-match ODI series (starting December 3) and a five-match T20 series (beginning December 12).
Watch every match from the Cricket World Cup live Sky Sports, including the final in Ahmedabad on Sunday November 19. Stream the tournament without a contract through NOW.