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World Cup 2023: Ben Stokes' impending return to playing XI set to create selection headaches for England

Ben Stokes had played a crucial role in helping England win their first-ever World Cup in 2019 with numerous match-winning performances across games, including an unbeaten 84 in the summit clash versus New Zealand in the World Cup final.

Written By: Kumar Rupesh @afiestysoul New Delhi Published on: October 18, 2023 20:07 IST
Ben Stokes.
Image Source : GETTY IMAGES Ben Stokes.

The impending return of England's talismanic allrounder Ben Stokes to the playing XI is going to create major selection headaches for the English team management ahead of the upcoming World Cup clash against South Africa at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday, October 21.

When the England captain Jos Buttler was asked to give an update on Stokes' fitness after the match against Afghanistan, he had mentioned that the veteran allrounder was almost fully fit to be available for selection.

Had Harry Brook not performed the way he did in the game against Afghanistan, he would have certainly been the one to make way for Stokes in the playing XI but the youngster was easily the most fluent English batter in the upset caused by Afghanistan.

England's white-ball head coach Matthew Mott has mentioned that they will "sit down as a selection group" and finalise the playing XI leading into the clash against the Proteas who also suffered a major setback after losing to the Netherlands in Dharamsala.

"It's still up for debate. We'll have some really good, robust conversations over the next 24 hours," Mott was quoted as saying by Sky Sports Cricket.

"I think we're going to sit down as a selection group, get the numbers, get some theories out there. We'll normally get to two or three XIs and then debate it, so all things are on the table at the moment," he added.

Though Stokes is yet to feature in the ongoing edition, he has not shied away from taking responsibility as a senior member of the group. He was quick to infuse motivation into his teammates after the shocking loss in Delhi by addressing them in the dressing room.

"He's like the spiritual leader of the group in many ways and he certainly spoke really well after the game the other day," told Mott.

"He spoke about that need to really assert ourselves, which he's renowned for. I said 'I've got this' and just spoke, talked about the plan going forward for the next few days, and then Stokesy came in on the back of that.

"He really reinforced what was a great message, particularly for someone who's sitting on the bench and has a bit of a different lens on things. I think it went down well, it brought us back to controlling what we can control, really," he concluded.

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