England are set to play New Zealand in the ODI World Cup 2023 opener on Thursday, 5 October. The Jos Buttler side will hope to start on a positive note but might not have the services of 2019 World Cup hero Ben Stokes. Speaking a day ahead of the opener, England captain Jos Buttler said that Stokes is not fully fit and will not be playing till the medical team allows him to.
“He’s got a slight niggle with his hip. Fingers crossed that it’ll be good news for us. 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,” Jos Buttler told the reports in a pre-match press conference.
Ben Stokes has come into the ODI World Cup 2023 as a specialist batter after making a U-turn on his ODI retirement. The all-rounder delivered a performance that was nothing short of extraordinary in the 2019 WC Final. The Christchurch-born played a pivotal role in England’s historic victory over New Zealand, a win that was determined by a boundary count after a nail-biting tie and a Super Over.
Stokes stepped onto the pitch with England in a precarious position, struggling at 86 for four while chasing a target of 242. Displaying remarkable resilience and skill, he struck an unbeaten 84 off 98 balls, steadying England’s innings. His partnership with Jos Buttler was particularly noteworthy, as they put together a crucial 110-run stand for the fifth wicket.
The drama escalated in the final over when England needed 15 runs to win. Stokes smashed a six off the third ball, and then, in a moment of sheer luck and controversy, a throw from Martin Guptill deflected off his bat and ran away to the boundary, adding six crucial runs to England’s score. Despite these heroics, Stokes couldn’t take England over the line in the regular overs as New Zealand effected two run-outs on the last two balls.
The match proceeded to a Super Over, the first in ODI history. Ben Stokes, despite his exhaustion, returned to the crease and scored eight runs off three balls, helping England post 15 runs. The Super Over also ended in a tie, but England emerged victorious due to their superior boundary count (26 to New Zealand’s 17).
Ben Stokes’ exceptional performance earned him the Man of the Match honors. His unbeaten 84, coupled with his contribution in the Super Over, was instrumental in England clinching their maiden World Cup title.
This unforgettable match at Lord’s in London will forever be remembered for Stokes’ indomitable spirit and his ability to perform under pressure. His performance in the 2019 World Cup final is a testament to his status as one of the most formidable all-rounders in cricket.
If Stokes is unable to play in the opening match against New Zealand, it will be a major blow to England. He is one of the most experienced and versatile players in the team, and his presence in the batting order and bowling attack would be sorely missed. However, England have a strong squad with plenty of depth. If Stokes is absent, they have several other players who can step up and take his place. It will be interesting to see how England line up their team for the opening match against New Zealand.