Ahmedabad, Oct 4 (IANS): A hip niggle has meant that talismanic all-rounder Ben Stokes is in doubt to miss England’s opening match of 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup against New Zealand in Ahmedabad on Thursday, said captain Jos Buttler.
Stokes, the Player of the Match in the 2019 final between the teams playing Thursday’s tournament opener, came out of ODI retirement in August to play for England in their title defence. After smashing a fine 182 against New Zealand, Stokes hasn’t played competitively, and even missed England’s warm-up match against Bangladesh in Guwahati.
Buttler also insisted that England would not be taking any unnecessary risks over fitness issues of its players early in the tournament. “He's had a slight niggle. 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 here. Whether he's not fit to play, he's not fit to play. If he is, then we can make that decision. But it's not a time to take big risks on someone at the start of the tournament.”
“Nearer the end, maybe do take more of a risk with people's injuries. But it's going to be a long tournament. So, we'll see how the guys pull up here at training today and post-training, and then we can make our decisions,” he said in the pre-match press conference.
If Stokes is ruled out, then middle-order batter Harry Brook would be expected to slot in at number four in the playing eleven. Though Brook has played only six ODIs and came in late into the squad at the expense of Jason Roy on the back of successes in T20Is and Tests, Buttler backed the right-handed batter to come good.
“We all know what a fantastic player he is. 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 will allow him to bat for a long time and make big runs and that's something he enjoys doing. So, he's got all the shots from Test cricket, he can play big innings. So, it's a format that should suit him really well.”
Buttler also thinks that the extensive experience of playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in members of other teams, including England, will be advantageous in terms of dealing with playing in conditions in the country.
“It gives us a lot of familiarity with the venues and the travel around India, the hotels you stay in and those kinds of things. So, we know what to expect. Obviously, we're playing 50 over cricket, not 20 over cricket as you would in the IPL.”
“And lots of the other teams are in a similar position with that. Many players from all around the world come here and experience the IPL. So, I believe that's an advantage for most teams to have played quite a bit of cricket in India.”
“There's a lot of players from all the teams who've experienced the IPL. The IPL has been around for a while now and guys will have experienced that competition. Lots of guys in our team and obviously players in the other sides as well. So, I think there is a very level playing field on that front.”