In a surprising turn of events, Ben Stokes, the England cricket sensation, has come clean about his premeditated return to One Day International (ODI) cricket, indicating that his eye was always on the World Cup 2023 in India. This revelation comes on the heels of his breathtaking record-breaking performance against New Zealand, where he scored a staggering 182 runs from just 124 balls.
Stokes had announced his retirement from ODI cricket back in July 2022, citing a desire to manage his chronic left knee injury. However, two weeks later, he found himself back in the mix, named in England's squad for their series against New Zealand and their provisional World Cup squad. It turns out that his statements about the knee were nothing more than a well-executed “poker face.”
Ben Stokes on reversal of ODI retirement for World Cup 2023
Addressing the press, Stokes candidly confessed, “Obviously I've been asked a lot about my knee over a long period of time, so I just said that to leave it. I knew that I'd be playing in these games and potentially in the World Cup then when I said that, but it was just the easiest thing to say that and put you [the press] off the radar.”
The world got a taste of Stokes' unrivaled talent when he demolished New Zealand's bowling attack, breaking the record for the highest individual score by an England batter in men's ODIs, previously held by Jason Roy. His sublime innings, which included 15 fours and nine sixes, showcased his ability to dominate the game.
Reflecting on his innings, Stokes emphasized the importance of game awareness in ODI cricket, saying, “You have way more time than you think. In terms of game awareness and game smartness, today was good for that. Today was good for me personally, just to get familiarity again with how 50-over cricket goes.”
Playing as a specialist batter, Stokes has a newfound clarity about his role in the team. He acknowledged that the uncertainty of whether he would bowl or not had clouded his mindset over the last 18 months. However, as a specialist batter, he can now focus solely on his batting, contributing significantly to the team's cause.
Stokes also spoke about his position in the batting order, mentioning that he prefers not to go in too early so that he can witness the top-order batsmen perform. He emphasized that his approach to one-day cricket remains unchanged despite his shift to No. 4, asserting that he will continue with the same attacking mindset he had while batting at No. 5 or 6.
As the cricketing world marvels at Stokes' extraordinary talent and his return to the ODI format, one thing is clear: his intention to make a grand comeback was a well-kept secret until he revealed it with his scintillating performance against New Zealand. With the 50-over World Cup on the horizon, England fans can look forward to more fireworks from this cricketing genius as he seeks to help England defend their title in India.