Ben Stokes could miss England's Cricket World Cup opener against New Zealand

Stokes was absent from England's warm-up match against Bangladesh in Guwahati on Monday

By Web Desk
October 04, 2023
Ben Stokes - ICC

Ben Stokes, the Player of the Match in the 2019 World Cup final between England and New Zealand, is facing uncertainty ahead of the opener of the 2023 edition in Ahmedabad this Thursday.

Despite his triumphant return to ODI cricket in August, where he scored an impressive 182 against New Zealand, Stokes has been dealing with a persistent knee injury, restricting him to a specialist batting role.

However, Stokes was conspicuously absent from England's warm-up match against Bangladesh in Guwahati on Monday, citing a hip issue.

England's captain, Jos Buttler, voiced their cautious approach to player fitness during the early stages of the tournament. Buttler explained, "He's got a slight niggle with his hip...But fingers crossed that it'll be good news for us. We'll see. He's working hard with the physios, and we'll know more when the guys arrive for training today."

"We'll make the right call. If he's not fit to play, he's not fit to play. If he is, we can make that decision. It's not the time to take big risks on someone at the start of the tournament. Nearer the end, maybe you do take more of a risk with people's injuries, but it's going to be a long tournament."

Stokes' potential absence could see Harry Brook stepping into the No. 4 spot, a position he occupied in the warm-up game against Bangladesh. Despite having limited ODI experience, Brook's stellar performances in Test and T20 cricket have instilled confidence in the English camp. Buttler praised Brook, "We all know what a fantastic player he is," Buttler said of Brook. "He's at the start of an international career that's been outstanding in T20 cricket and the Test format. He's not played loads of ODI cricket, but it's a format that should suit him perfectly.

"It'll allow him to bat for a long time and make big runs, and that's something he enjoys doing. He's got all the shots, and we know from Test cricket that he can play big innings. It's a format that should suit him really well."