Ben Stokes’ combative performance against India has resulted in a ‘good headache’ for the English selectors, admits Jos Buttler … with an all-rounder battling Dawid Malan for third place ahead of this year’s T20 World Cup.
- Ben Stokes hit a devastating 99 in 52 balls when England chased 337 into Pune
- Friday’s win against India set up Sunday’s series decider at the same venue
- England’s dilemma is that the No 3 slot is currently being filled by Dawid Malan
- But stand-in captain Jos Buttler believes Stokes’s knock is a welcome headache
Jos Buttler has admitted that Ben Stokes’ fireworks in Friday’s second one-day international against India has caused a ‘good headache’ for selectors who are trying to settle for a top three for the T20 World Cup later this year.
Stokes hit a withering 99 in 52 No. 3 balls when England chased 337 to set up Sunday’s series decider in Pune. And it raised the possibility that he will take the same role when England returns to India in the fall and aims to become the first team to hold the T20 and the one-day World Cups simultaneously.
All 10 of Stokes’ sixes came from the Indian spinners, Krunal Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav on Friday, encouraging the argument that he should be given as much time as possible to deal damage in the T20 format, rather than the fight this low as No. 5 or 6. With Jason Roy and Buttler stuck to it as openers, and Jonny Bairstow at No. 4, there’s an obvious fix.
Jos Buttler has admitted that Ben Stokes’ fireworks have given England ‘good headaches’
Stokes hit a withering 99 in 52 No. 3 balls when England chased 337 against India
England’s dilemma is that the number 3 slot is currently being filled by Dawid Malan, the world’s top ranked T20 batsman. Still, he looked mortal to spin in India’s recent 20-over series, with just 80 runs from 77 balls in the first four games, before finishing strong against the seamers with 68 out of 46.
Those final innings underscored Malan’s route to the top of the rankings, with all of his T20 runs for England before the India tour was made at home or in New Zealand and South Africa. His overall record remains formidable: 1,003 runs on 50, with a strike rate of 144.
But when asked if Stokes could compete on the first drop in the T20 World Cup, Buttler – the England captain as Morgan recuperates from a hand injury – replied, “Yes, absolutely. It was impressive to watch. Ben always wants to be involved in the game as much as possible. It’s no surprise that he played so well in that position.
Dawid Malan is the number 1 T20 batsman in the world and it’s no fluke. We have a wealth of talent in white ball cricket and a lot of guys who want to see as many balls as possible.
England’s dilemma is that the number 3 slot is currently being filled by leading T20 batsman Dawid Malan
“The team will evolve, but what hasn’t changed is that we have great options and guys who play great. It’s a good headache for the men in charge. ‘
India has lost just three one-day series at home since 2009, while England’s last ODI series victory in India went back to 1984.
With so much at stake in Sunday’s game, they can resist the chance to give a first outing of winter to Lancashire leg spinner Matt Parkinson, and settle for the recall from Mark Wood, who was equipped from the second game.
That couldn’t make room for Tom Curran, who has struggled all winter for control of the two white-ball formats, taking just four wickets from 72 each. Sam Billings’ chances of a match depend on how quickly he is recovering from a shoulder injury.
Stand-in captain Buttler (left) thinks the sectors are in a good dilemma