Former Australian Test captain Tim Paine has slammed Ben Stokes after the English all-rounder came out of one-day international retirement ahead of the 50-over World Cup in India later this year, selected in England’s squad to host New Zealand for four warm-up ODIs.
“Ben Stokes coming out of one day retirement, I found that interesting,” Paine told SEN Tasmania.
“It was a bit of, ‘Me, me, me’, there isn’t it? It was, ‘I’ll pick and I’ll choose where I want to play and when I want to play’, and, ‘I’ll play in the big tournaments’.
“The guys who played for 12 months, ‘Sorry, thanks. But can you go and sit on the bench because I want to play now?’
“I don’t know, he’s not bowling.
“Harry Brook or Ben Stokes? As a bat. It would be very close, very, very close.”
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English Test captain Stokes quit the ODI format 13 months ago due to a demanding workload as a multi-format player and amid concerns about a chronic left knee injury, and is anticipated to primarily feature as a specialist batter for the World Cup.
Stokes was the hero of England’s historic 2019 World Cup victory, earning player of the match honours in the final against New Zealand in the most dramatic of circumstances.
He scored 84 in England’s chase and taking 14 runs off the final over to tie the game, including a six scored by means of an overthrow inadvertently deflected off his outstretched bat to the boundary.
The resulting Super Over was then itself tied, with England winning the World Cup as the result of a boundary countback, having scored more boundaries than New Zealand over the course of the game.
Stokes was selected over burgeoning 24-year-old white-ball star Harry Brook, who has served as one of England’s key batters over the past year.
England selector Luke Wright said the decision to select Stokes was as much a decision made with regard to his leadership as it was his experience and skillset.
“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,” Wright said.
“The return of Ben Stokes only adds to that quality with his matchwinning ability and leadership. I am certain that every fan will enjoy seeing him back in an England ODI shirt again.”
While the experienced Stokes’s return was widely forecast, England have also included uncapped Surrey fast bowler Gus Atkinson in their squad for the New Zealand ODI series.
The 25-year-old was not even in Surrey’s XI at the start of the season but has impressed across all formats, especially in The Hundred where he was clocked bowling at 153 km/h for the Oval Invincibles.
With express quick Jofra Archer unlikely to be fit for the start of the World Cup as he recovers from his latest elbow injury, Atkinson will hope to prove his worth at international level against New Zealand.
England begin the series against the Black Caps in Cardiff on September 8.
A separate squad for a series with Ireland later in September will be named nearer the start of that series.
England must name their final 15-strong World Cup squad, plus three travelling reserves by September 25.
They begin their white-ball home season with four Twenty20 internationals against New Zealand from August 30 to September 5.
Hampshire seamer John Turner has earned his first senior call-up while Atkinson could make his England debut in the series, with Stokes not a member of the T20 squad.
The World Cup begins on October 5 in India, with Australia set to play England on November 4 in Ahmedabad.
– with AFP