Ben Stokes has revealed he was always planning to reverse his decision to retire from ODI cricket and return in time for this year’s ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, as the England star delivered yet another reminder of his all-round brilliance with a record-breaking innings against New Zealand on Wednesday.
Stokes retired from ODI cricket last year and even told reporters at the conclusion of this year’s Ashes series that he had no plans of performing a backflip on that decision and returning to action for the World Cup that commences in India next month.
But Stokes was named in England’s preliminary squad for their defence of the World Cup last month and warmed up for that event by making a brilliant 182 from just 124 deliveries in his side’s thumping victory over New Zealand at The Oval on Wednesday, an ICC report said.
“Obviously I’ve been asked a lot about my knee over a long period of time, so I just said to leave it,” Stokes said post-match in relation to his comments at the conclusion of the Ashes.
“I knew that I’d be playing in these games and potentially in the World Cup when I said that, but it was just the easiest thing to say and put you (the media) off the radar,” he said.
Stokes hit 15 fours and nine sixes while playing as a specialist batter, eclipsing Jason Roy’s 180 against Australia in 2018 to claim the record for the highest individual score by a men’s player for England in ODI cricket.
Consistent No.3 Dawid Malan briefly attempted to steal the limelight with an excellent knock of 96 in a partnership of 199 with Stokes, but it was the record-breaking innings from the England Test captain – in a rematch of the 2019 World Cup Final – that stood out on a dominant day for the hosts.
“I didn’t really know (about the record) until the bloke on the tannoy (loudspeaker) announced it – then I got out next ball,” Stokes noted.
Stokes said the fact he was in the side as a specialist batter provided him with more clarity in regards his role in the team and allowed him to bat with more freedom while at the crease.
“This is the first time that I’ve been clear in my mind that that’s the one thing I can focus on,” Stokes said.
“I think over the last 18 months, every day has been, ‘will I bowl, will I not bowl?’ Now, I know that I can just focus on that… that’s my thing for the team now. Having that clarity in my head contributes to that,” he said.
“I’d prefer not to go in that early because I want to see the other lads at the top do well. I don’t think I’ve necessarily changed my approach in one-day cricket from all the years I spent at No. 5 or 6… I still think that batting at No. 4, I’ll go out with the exact same approach I had at No. 5,” Stokes added.