Ben Stokes: ‘Door open’ for England all-rounder to end ODI retirement and play at World Cup
The “door is open” for Ben Stokes to come out of 50-over retirement and play at the World Cup in India later this year, says England coach Matthew Mott.
England Test captain Stokes, 31, retired from one-day internationals last summer to manage his workload.
But the all-rounder did not rule out a U-turn last year amid calls for him to do so after he led England to victory in the T20 World Cup final.
Mott said England are happy to wait on a decision.
“The door is always open for a player of that quality but we are also very aware that his main focus is red-ball cricket as the captain,” Mott said, speaking before England’s three-match ODI series against South Africa begins on Friday.
“We respect that and when he’s ready to chat, we’ll do that.”
Stokes was man of the match in the 2019 World Cup final when England beat New Zealand in a dramatic super over to win the trophy for the first time.
When announcing his shock retirement last July he said “there is too much cricket rammed in” for players to play all three formats.
At the time he ruled out a World Cup return saying it would be “unfair” on those selected in his place, but asked again in November before a Test series in Pakistan he said: “Who knows? At the moment, being out here, my focus is solely on this series.
“Going to a World Cup is an amazing thing to do, to represent your country. But at the moment I’m not even thinking about that.”
Asked whether England would give Stokes a cut-off date to make his decision by, Mott said: “I’ve had some good discussions with Jos [Buttler, captain] and Rob Key [director of England men’s cricket] on this.
“What we’ve worked out, as you will see on this tour, is that players are playing a lot of franchise cricket, coming in and out at different times, so we need to keep a really flexible, open mind to players and when we sit down to pick that 15 for the World Cup, we want to pick the best players possible.”
The World Cup will be played in October and November by which time England will not have played a Test for more than two months.
They do not play again in the longest format until early 2024, when they return to India for a five-match Test series.
Archer ‘frothing’ to play
Stokes is not in the England squad to play South Africa this week but fast bowler Jofra Archer could make his first international appearance for almost two years as he makes his comeback from injury.
Mott said Archer was “frothing to play” but England will manage him throughout a year which includes an Ashes series as well as the World Cup.
“Having watched him from a distance, I think he’s one of the most exciting things to have happened in cricket for the last decade,” Mott said.
“The best thing I can say is that we have a general plan of what it [Archer’s schedule] might look like.
“We will work through it with him, see how his body is coping. I definitely think he is a high priority and he will be managed as well as possible.”