Ben Stokes Set to Make a Return in the Opening ODI Against New Zealand
English all-rounder Ben Stokes will make the long-awaited return to the England team in the first One day International against New Zealand. However, one final check on his fitness will be done on the morning of the match. The swashbuckling all-rounder has been out of the England team for the last five months. He was arrested following a roadside brawl outside a Bristol nightclub way back in September.
England limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan was reluctant in answering the fact that whether the all-rounder will be available against the Kiwis this weekend. Stokes was bowling in the nest when Morgan was seen speaking with the reporters. When asked whether Stokes was ready for the occasion, Morgan said:
“He’s bowling out the back at the minute.”
“If he comes through fine today and unscathed tomorrow and a low risk of getting injured on Sunday, then he’ll be fit to play.”
Stokes missed the Ashes which England lost 4-0 to Australia. He subsequently missed the ODI series where England bounced back strongly and took the series by a 5-1 margin. Stokes was not available for selection until he pleaded not guilty to the affray charge at the Bristol Magistrate’s Court earlier in the month.
There will be expectations from every quarter as the star all-rounder returns after a long lay off. However, Morgan has insisted not to anticipate too much very soon.
“I mentioned yesterday that he might be better the more games he does play – this is his first for quite a long time,” he said.
“His thoughts will be along the same lines.” However, Morgan has been impressed with the way Stokes has been preparing himself in the nets. He also lauded him for keeping any off-field concerns away from his game.
“It’s a skill of any professional sportsman, or any professional when it comes down to doing your job, and it’s actually a nice release because you get to focus on one thing. He looks in great nick. He’s hit the ground running, and he’s been himself – which has been great to see.”
It will be Difficult Prospect for England to beat New Zealand at home
With or without Stokes, it will be a difficult task for England to get better of the Kiwis especially after the latter has won all of their 8 home ODI’s this year.
With or without Stokes, England face an exacting task against opponents who have won all eight of their ODIs at home this year, trouncing West Indies and Pakistan.
“Before the Australia series, I said these two series had the potential to expose some of our weakness as a side – and we have to be open to improving on them,” said Morgan.
“New Zealand have been on a run, and have a well-balanced side. Adapting our game to conditions is an important part of it.” Morgan stated that England need to improve in the batting department which took a backward step during the tour of Australia.
“Our batting has taken a bit of a backward step in Australia, so we’d like to see improvements in this series,” he said. Our bowling has come a long way in the last 11 months, which has been a really good sign.
“You can win a lot of games with the bat, but restricting and having control of the game with the ball is so powerful,” he concluded.
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