England’s coach, Matthew Mott, shared crucial insights regarding the potential return of Ben Stokes to the playing XI during the ongoing ODI World Cup 2023. Stokes, a key figure in the England cricket team, has been notably absent during the early matches of the quadrennial event. The English stalwart’s hip complaint forced him to sit out the opening three games of the tournament.
Where England experienced mixed fortunes. They achieved a victory over Bangladesh but suffered crushing defeats against New Zealand and Afghanistan.
Shocking Loss to Afghanistan in Delhi
England’s struggles became most apparent in their encounter with Afghanistan, where they faced an unexpected loss in Delhi. The challenging surface favored spin, creating opportunities for bowlers like Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and Mohammad Nabi. Rashid, Mujeeb, and Nabi combined to take eight wickets as the defending champions fell short by 69 runs while chasing a target of 285.
Matthew Mott Update on Ben Stokes’ Fitness
With England set to face South Africa in Mumbai on October 21, Mott provided a positive update on Stokes’ fitness. The return of the star all-rounder to the playing XI could be a significant boost for the team, potentially addressing some of the challenges they’ve faced in the tournament.
“We’ve obviously been relatively conservative with him, but the medical staff were always confident that South Africa was a game we could target. I haven’t had a report on him in the last 24 hours, but before that, he was on target,” Mott was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
“So fingers crossed, he can tick off all the things that need to be ticked off and he comes back into that side. He’s like the spiritual leader of the group in many ways, and he certainly spoke really well after the game the other day and spoke about that need to really assert ourselves,” the 50-year-old added.
Identifying Challenges & Areas of Improvement
Mott, while acknowledging the dedication of the England squad, highlighted specific areas of concern. He emphasized that the team had faced issues with their confidence levels and suggested that there was room for improvement in their general attitude both in batting and bowling.
“The boys are trying really hard. But the two things that we’re probably missing are the confidence – to puff your chest out, go out there, and really take the game on – and then it’s just our general attitude, our ability to do the little things: bowl in partnerships when we’re bleeding from one end… and then with the bat, just being a little bit braver,” Motts concluded.