When Ben Stokes pulled out of the third one-day international in the West Indies with a sprained ankle, it was a glimpse of a future that England may yet have to grapple with in the World Cup. While England have a surfeit of cricketers who can bat in the same buccaneering mould as Stokes and bowl right-arm pace like him, they lack any candidate to perform anything like his all-round role. An injury to Stokes, then, does not just deprive England of one of their best players, a cricketer with the force of personality to change the fate of any game. It also means that they have to fundamentally rebalance the side. Stokes’s withdrawal from the ultimately washed-out ODI in Grenada on Monday was precautionary. “We took a conservative approach today and decided not to chance making it worse,” said England coach Trevor Bayliss. “I’d be surprised if he’s not right for Wednesday.” Still, Stokes’s absence was a useful exercise for England about what to do should they lose him during the World Cup. As number five and a frontline bowler Stokes is uniquely important in balancing the side. He allows England to field a six-man attack while still having… Read full this story
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