ICC World Cup 2023: England’s head coach provides fitness update on Ben Stokes

The all-rounder has been struggling with knee discomfort

By Web Desk
October 18, 2023
Ben Stokes is likely to play England's next match against South Africa on October 21 in Mumbai. — ICC

The England cricket team’s head coach, Matthew Mott, provided a fitness update on the all-rounder Ben Stokes, who has been suffering from a knee injury for the last few months.

Suffering from a chronic left-knee injury, Stokes came out of retirement from ODIs to serve his side as a specialist middle-order batter and he showed glimpses of what he is capable of after smashing 182 — England’s highest ODI score — against New Zealand just before the mega event.

Stokes, 32, has now missed three matches — against the Black Caps, Bangladesh and then an upset against Afghanistan.

However, according to Mott, the 32-year-old is likely to mark his return in a crucial match against South Africa on October 21 in Mumbai, which the defending champions need to win at all costs if they want to stay in the semi-final race.

“We’ve obviously been relatively conservative with him, but the medical staff were always confident that South Africa was a game we could target,” Mott said on Tuesday. “I haven’t had a report on him in the last 24 hours, but before that, he was on target.

“So fingers crossed, he can tick off all the things that need to be ticked off and he comes back into that side. He’s like the spiritual leader of the group in many ways, and he certainly spoke really well after the game the other day, and spoke about that need to really assert ourselves.”

England have lost two of their ICC World Cup 2023 matches against New Zealand and Afghanistan with their only win coming against Bangladesh. There is no room for error for Jos Buttler’s men if they want to represent their side in the mega event’s semi-finals.

The inclusion of Stokes has now become a necessity, the 32-year-old cannot bowl due to ongoing issues with his knee but can certainly contribute and take control of the struggling English side.

Earlier, the Netherlands shocked South Africa as they handed them a 38-run defeat in Dharamshala.

The Proteas, who were ranked third in the ICC World Cup points table before their loss against the Netherlands with a massive 2.36 net run rate (NRR), are still in the same position but their NRR has now decreased to 1.385.