Ben Stokes Set to Return for England Against Afghanistan in World Cup Clash
In a development that could significantly boost England’s World Cup campaign, star all-rounder Ben Stokes seems primed to make his long-awaited return to the pitch. After sitting out recent matches against New Zealand and Bangladesh due to a niggling hip problem, Stokes appears to have overcome the hurdle and is eager to contribute to England’s quest for glory. The Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi bore witness to his rigorous training session, sparking optimism within the England camp.
Stokes’s Comeback on the Horizon
Stokes’s journey back to the playing XI has been carefully orchestrated, and his latest training session provided compelling evidence of his readiness. While the rest of the squad engaged in fielding drills, Stokes embarked on a series of lengthy sprints, showcasing his agility and mobility. Later, he spent a solid 30 minutes in the nets, honing his batting skills under the floodlights, a testament to his commitment to regaining full fitness.
However, the final decision rests with head coach Matthew Mott and captain Jos Buttler. They must balance the desire to unleash Stokes’s formidable prowess against the need to ensure he remains available for the pivotal clashes ahead. Vigilance against potential setbacks is paramount, especially with crucial matchups looming on the horizon.
The Strategic Timing
One strategic advantage of unleashing Stokes against Afghanistan, a team England is expected to dominate, is the ample recovery time before the high-stakes showdown with the soaring South African side in Mumbai. Stokes’s last match outing was four weeks ago when he dazzled fans with a record-breaking 182 against New Zealand at the Oval. This extended break could serve as the perfect opportunity for him to regain his match fitness and rhythm.
Stokes’s journey back to fitness has been marked by determination, with this being his third nets session since the commencement of the tournament. Notably, this session appeared to be his most convincing, displaying a marked contrast to his initial struggles.
Brook’s Fate Hangs in the Balance
The prospect of Stokes’s return naturally raises questions about the composition of the playing XI. Harry Brook, the stand-in batsman in Stokes’s absence, has had opportunities to make an impact but has yet to capitalize on them fully. With Stokes’s return, the chances of Brook retaining his place in the side seem precarious.
Brook, however, seems unperturbed by the uncertainty surrounding his spot, saying, “I have no idea, that’s up to them [the management], isn’t it? I haven’t even thought about it.” He acknowledged Stokes’s immense talent, stating, “Stokesy has to come back in. He’s one of the best players to ever play for England, so whether it’s me or someone else missing out, he’s 100 per cent coming back in the team.”
Minor Setback for Woakes
In a minor setback, Chris Woakes missed a training session due to illness. While the ailment is not believed to be serious, it might pave the way for David Willey, who is yet to make an appearance in the tournament.
With the highly anticipated clash against Afghanistan on the horizon, England fans will be keeping a close eye on Stokes’s progress, hoping for his triumphant return to the World Cup stage.