Four options to consider for England in T20 WC in Ben Stokes’ absence

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London [UK]: England star all-rounder Ben Stokes made a surprise announcement on Tuesday when he said that he would skip the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup to be held in West Indies/USA from June 1 this year, in order to allow his body to heal and rest after a knee surgery and get back to being a full-time all-rounder for his side across all formats.

This statement from England’s Test captain has left Three Lions with some serious thinking to do, as they would be without their ultimate clutch performer, who also scored a half-century during England’s title clash against Pakistan back in the 2022 tournament and helped them win the game. Stokes’ has not bowled frequently since a long time due to knee issues and the time away from the game could help him.

Replacing someone of Stokes’ big-game mentality and capability would be an impossible task, but England do have some viable replacements that can help restore the balance of the team.

-An extra batter to boost the batting line-up
Skipper Jos Buttler and wicketkeeper-batter Phil Salt, ranked number two in T20I Rankings, look certain to start as openers. Harry Brook, the talented right-hander batter who featured in the last T20 WC, is also likely to play a part in England’s title defence despite no competitive cricket played this year due to the death of his grandmother.

With Stokes missing, it leaves a spot open for top-order batters like Jonny Bairstow and former number-one T20I batter Dawid Malan. Another option could be the highly-rated spin-bowling all-rounder Will Jacks, who can also hit very big at the top, as per ICC.

-Utilise more all-rounders in the squad
England will have some more all-rounders in their squads, with Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone highly likely to find their places in the squad. While none of them have the class and big-game aura of Stokes, they are still extremely capable. The T20 WC 2022 ‘Player of the Tournament’ also looks all set to join the team.

But England could also bring their bowling all-rounder Chris Jordan, who was born in Barbados and would feel at home during the Caribbean leg of the tournament. He can hit some big sixes, is a gun fielder and a death-overs specialist. During the 2022 T20 WC final, he picked up two wickets of Shadab Khan and Mohammed Wasim.

-Utilise an additional spinner
Conditions in West Indies and USA will be highly suitable to slower bowlers and England have some good spinners as well, starting with the world’s number-one spinner in T20Is, Adil Rashid. Moeen is also a great spinner, who can bowl at both powerplay and death phases and offers a plus of batting skills. Livingstone and Jacks are also great spin bowling options.

England has no shortage of all-rounders, particularly spin-bowling ones, but they can still add teen spinner Rehan Ahmed, who took six wickets in four matches against West Indies last year in the shortest format. The English management has backed the prodigious spinner, sending him to India for a five-Test series recently.

-All out pace assault
Barbados-born Jofra Archer will spearhead England’s pace unit if he is fit for the tournament, with left-armer Reece Topley and Chris Woakes also likely to play their parts. Woakes is also capable with the bat. A few more pace options that England could consider are Mark Wood and Gus Atkinson.
Wood took nine wickets in four matches during the 2022 T20 WC in Australia, while Atkinson picked a four-wicket haul on T20I debut against New Zealand.

England is placed in Group B along with Australia, Scotland, Namibia and Oman. The defending champions will be starting their campaign against Scotland on June 4. 

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