Ben Stokes comes out of ODI retirement ahead of World Cup bid

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Ben Stokes has been lured out of his ODI retirement ahead of the World Cup while uncapped paceman Gus Atkinson has emerged as a bolter for England’s defence of their crown in India.

Stokes called time on his 50-over career 13 months ago due to a demanding workload and concerns abound about a chronic left knee problem that meant he did not bowl whatsoever in the last three Ashes Tests.

However, the Test captain could have a specialist batting role after answering a plea from white-ball counterpart Jos Buttler to make himself available for England’s bid to retain their World Cup title.

England take on New Zealand in four tune-up ODIs next month and Stokes has been included in a 15-strong squad that is likely to strongly resemble the touring party for the World Cup in October and November.

England men’s national selector Luke Wright said: “Any series against New Zealand is closely fought and will provide us with an ideal opportunity to test ourselves against one of the best teams in the world.

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“The return of Ben Stokes only adds to that quality with his match-winning ability and leadership. I am certain that every fan will enjoy seeing him back in an England ODI shirt again.”

Dawid Malan – who made ODI tons in Australia, South Africa and Bangladesh over the winter – keeps his spot ahead of Harry Brook, with the Yorkshireman seemingly the batter to make way for Stokes’ return.

While the return of a player who made crucial knocks in both the 2019 World Cup final and last year’s T20 equivalent was widely-anticipated, England have thrown a curve ball in selecting Surrey’s Atkinson.

The 25-year-old started the domestic season outside Surrey’s XI but he has impressed in all formats in recent months, especially in The Hundred where he was clocked bowling at 95mph for Oval Invincibles.

With Jofra Archer unlikely to be fit for the start of the World Cup as he recovers from his latest elbow injury, England have a chance to put their new express quick through his pace against the Kiwis.

White-ball head coach Matthew Mott intimated in the Mail on Sunday England may risk taking their 2019 super over hero to India if there is a chance he could feature in the latter stages of the World Cup.

But Archer is unavailable to face the Black Caps in a series that starts on September 8 in Cardiff, where Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow are poised for their first ODI appearances in more than a year.

Root, who has featured in just 15 ODIs since the 2019 World Cup final, missed England’s winter programme in the format due to his Test duties while Bairstow was absent because of a badly broken leg.

Big-hitting all-rounder Liam Livingstone and left-arm seamer David Willey also return to the set-up after missing England’s most recent ODI series against Bangladesh in March.

A separate squad to take on Ireland at the back end of September will be named at a later date, with England due to announce a provisional World Cup group by September 5, which they must finalise by September 28. England’s final squad will contain 15 players plus three travelling reserves.

England’s white-ball programme this summer starts with a four-match T20 series against New Zealand from August 30 to September 5, with Brook having the consolation of being named in that 15-man group.

Hampshire seamer John Turner has earned his first senior call-up while Atkinson could make his England debut in the series, with Josh Tongue, who has caught the eye in the Test side, set for his maiden experience of England’s limited-overs set-up.

Stokes is not a part of this squad where fringe contenders Rehan Ahmed and fellow all-rounder Will Jacks, plus left-arm seamer Luke Wood have been selected.

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England ODI squad to face New Zealand from September 8-15: J Buttler (captain), M Ali, G Atkinson, J Bairstow, S Curran, L Livingstone, D Malan, A Rashid, J Root, J Roy, B Stokes, R Topley, D Willey, M Wood, C Woakes.

England T20 squad to face New Zealand from August 30-September 5: J Buttler (captain), R Ahmed, M Ali, G Atkinson, J Bairstow, H Brook, S Curran, B Duckett, W Jacks, L Livingstone, D Malan, A Rashid, J Tongue, J Turner, L Wood.

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