Ben Stokes: Michael Atherton on Harry Brook being ‘the unlucky one’ and Stokes’ return to England ODI squad


Former England captain and Sky Sports Cricket expert Michael Atherton reflects on Ben Stokes’ return to England’s ODI squad for the series against New Zealand and the Cricket World Cup; watch England’s World Cup defence live on Sky Sports throughout October and November

Ben Stokes: Michael Atherton on Harry Brook being 'the unlucky one' and Stokes' return to England ODI squad

Michael Atherton sees Harry Brook’s omission from England’s ODI squad as an unfortunate consequence of Ben Stokes’ return to 50-over cricket.

England’s Test captain has reversed his decision to retire from ODIs ahead of their defence of the Cricket World Cup in India and will feature in the 15-player squad as a specialist batter for that and September’s home series against New Zealand after initially calling time on playing the 50-over format in July last year.

That means there is no room in the squad for big-hitting batter Brook, who remains in England’s squad for the IT20 series against the Black Caps, and former England captain and Sky Sports Cricket expert Atherton sees the 24-year-old’s absence as a sign of how the selectors want to balance the team.

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England men's ODI squad vs New Zealand

Jos Buttler (Lancashire – captain), Moeen Ali (Warwickshire), Gus Atkinson (Surrey), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Sam Curran (Surrey), Liam Livingstone (Lancashire), Dawid Malan (Yorkshire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Jason Roy (Surrey), Ben Stokes (Durham), Reece Topley (Surrey), David Willey (Northamptonshire), Mark Wood (Durham), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire)

“Harry Brook is the unlucky one,” Atherton told Sky Sports News. “That will be the bone of contention I think for many people looking at the squad – how a terrific young player like Brook can’t get in there.

“It really is a consequence of the Stokes selection and the fact he has come out of retirement. Then, how do you get him in? They want Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow.

“They have retained faith with Roy and Bairstow at the top of the order, Dawid Malan is cover for the top order there, Liam Livingstone provides cover for Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali in the spin department, so in the end, it is Brook who has given way.

“If you said to the selectors ‘do you want Brook in your team?’ they would say yes, but they just don’t feel as though they can fit him in.”

Ben Stokes: Michael Atherton on Harry Brook being 'the unlucky one' and Stokes' return to England ODI squad

Stokes starred with the bat and ball as England lifted the World Cup for the first time four years ago, but opted to retire from ODI cricket just over 12 months ago citing his desire to focus on captaining the Test team and prolong his career in both red-ball and T20 cricket.

The 32-year-old, who averages nearly 39 with the bat in ODIs and has three centuries and 21 half-centuries to his name from 105 matches in the format, will be used purely as a batter this time though to avoid aggravating the left knee issue which restricted his ability to bowl in the recent Ashes Test series.

Atherton believes the lure of playing in another World Cup, particularly with England as defending champions, proved too great for Stokes and that he was always going to be recalled once he had decided to make himself available for ODI selection again.

“I think it is great news for England and for England fans who will be delighted to see such a great cricketer come back,” Atherton said.

Ben Stokes: Michael Atherton on Harry Brook being 'the unlucky one' and Stokes' return to England ODI squad

“The lure of the World Cup was just too strong. He played such a central role in England winning that World Cup four years ago and this is his chance to defend it, probably his last chance in a 50-over World Cup.

“Once he made himself available, the selectors had to pick him. You have to pick a cricketer like Ben Stokes if they are available – he makes any team better.

“That has had an impact upon the rest of the selection because if he was an all-rounder, they may have done things slightly differently. He has taken up a middle-order batting spot which has impacted on someone like Harry Brook.”

Twenty20 International series vs New Zealand

Wednesday August 30 – Seat Unique Riverside, Durham (6pm)

Friday September 1 – Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester (6pm)

Sunday September 3 – Edgbaston, Birmingham (2.30pm)

Thursday September 5 – Trent Bridge, Nottingham (6pm)

ODI series vs New Zealand

Friday September 8 – Sophia Gardens, Cardiff (12.30pm)

Sunday September 10 – The Ageas Bowl, Southampton (11am)

Wednesday September 13 – The Kia Oval, London (12.30pm)

Friday September 15 – Lord’s, London (12.30pm)

ODI series vs Ireland

Wednesday September 20 – Headingley, Leeds (12.30pm)

Saturday September 23 – Trent Bridge, Nottingham (11am)

Tuesday September 26 – Seat Unique Stadium, Bristol (12.30pm)

ICC 50-over Cricket World Cup

Thursday October 5 – vs New Zealand, Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad (9.30am)

Tuesday October 10 – vs Bangladesh, Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, Dharamsala (9.30am)

Saturday October 14 – vs Afghanistan, Arun Jaitley Stadium, Delhi (9.30am)

Saturday October 21 vs South Africa, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai (9.30am)

Thursday October 26 – vs Sri Lanka, M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore (9.30am)

Sunday October 29 – vs India, BRSABV Ekana Cricket Stadium, Lucknow (8.30am)

Saturday November 4 – vs Australia, Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad (8.30am)

Wednesday November 8 – vs Netherlands, Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Gahunje (8.30am)

Saturday November 12 – vs Pakistan, Eden Gardens, Kolkata (8.30am)

Watch the ICC Men’s 50-over World Cup live on Sky Sports throughout October and November.

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