ENG vs SA | Door is always open for Ben Stokes to chat about ODI comeback, asserts Matthew Mott

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Matthew Mott has confirmed that England would be willing to welcome back Ben Stokes into the ODI setup, should the all-rounder wish so in lieu of the World Cup. He further discussed the issues of selection given the plethora of franchise cricket and revealed England's approach to the situation.

England's preparations for the ODI World Cup, slated for later in the year in India, are set to begin full-swing beginning with a three-match ODI series against South Africa. The first encounter of the three-match affair would take place on Friday at the Maungaung Oval in Bloemfontein, followed by clashes on January 29 and January 31 respectively. The reigning world champions already have three other ODI series scheduled ahead of the World Cup, against Bangladesh, New Zealand, and neighbouring Ireland.

Even though the team has retained most of its core from the successful 2019 campaign, the side would be missing its captain Eoin Morgan and influential all-rounder Ben Stokes, both of whom announced retirement from the format last year. While Morgan hung up his boots on the international forum, Stokes ascended to the role of Test captaincy, choosing to prioritise his red-ball abilities.

However, England's white-ball head coach Matthew Mott has urged the 31-year-old, not for the first time, to think about a potential comeback for the marquee event, given his heroics in the previous tournament. Stokes was named the man of the match in the final against New Zealand for a valiant unbeaten 84 off 98 deliveries before hitting a critical boundary in the ensuing Super Over. 

"The door is always open for a player of that quality but we are also very aware that his main focus is red-ball cricket as the captain,” Mott was quoted saying by Indian Express ahead of the series against the Proteas.

“We respect that and when he’s ready to chat, we’ll do that,” he added.

The fight for spots in the World Cup squad have already begun as players vie to be among the 15 that would travel to the subcontinent. However, with competitions such as the IPL, SA20, BBL, and ILT20 all featuring a host of English players, the England Cricket Board bears a big responsibility to be on the same page as the players with regard to availability for selection and workload management,

“I’ve had some good discussions with Jos [Buttler, ODI captain] and Rob Key (director of England men’s cricket) on this. What we’ve worked out, as you will see on this tour, is that players are playing a lot of franchise cricket, coming in and out at different times, so we need to keep a really flexible, open mind to players and when we sit down to pick that 15 for the World Cup, we want to pick the best players possible,” Mott explained.

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