The 2023 ODI World Cup is now less than a year away. Hosts India are the favorites to win it, but with Ben Stokes rumored to be considering coming out of ODI retirement, we look at how this might impact the betting, and examine if a return for Stokes will be a game changer for England?
England are in a strong position in global cricket
At the moment England are flying high. They are the current 50 Over world champions, and they have just won the T20 World Cup - making them the first team to ever hold both white ball World Cups simultaneously.
In the Test arena, they are blowing sides away with their attacking brand of cricket - another series win has just completed away in Pakistan. And the man who is leading the Test match revolution is Ben Stokes.
The official line on Stokes’ 50 Over international career is still that he is retired. He took that decision last summer after being made Test match captain, in order to, one, look after his body, and two, so he could focus on the Test match captaincy.
BREAKING: Ben Stokes has announced he will retire from ODI cricket following tomorrow's match against South Africa at Durham. pic.twitter.com/XHhLXo8WE6
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) July 18, 2022
Now with the Test team firing on all cylinders, and Stokes having just won the T20 World Cup with England, might Stokes reconsider his decision to retire and make himself available for the 50 Over team again?
Betting to win the 50 Over ODI World Cup
The current favorites to win the 50 Over ODI World Cup is India, who are +225. But that is to be expected, as the competition is on their home soil. A few months ago, the best online cricket betting sites had the Indians at +250, so they appear to be getting slowly backed into being even shorter favorites.
|ICC 2023 ODI World Cup Winner Betting|
England comes next in the cricket betting odds at +325. Jos Buttler’s team were +300 not so long back, so they appear to be on the drift. Unfortunately for anybody thinking of backing England, as this article highlights, it's very unclear at the moment what the makeup of their 50 Over team will be.
Along with the uncertainty over Stokes, there are also issues with the balance of the side, and there always seems to be question marks over the fitness of strike bowlers like Jofra Archer, and Mark Wood.
It's hard to know if a comeback for Stokes would significantly change the betting. As he showed in the T20 World Cup final, he is the man for the big occasion.
A Ben Stokes special at the MCG! 😍
— T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) November 13, 2022
So if he does come back, he instantly improves England's chances of winning. So I would expect that to mean England's odds will shorten.
I can't see the odds changing to the point of England being made the favorites. As India playing on home soil are always going to lead the betting markets.
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Reasons Stokes might decline to come back
Another reason why it's not clear about England is because the World Cup is on the back of an Ashes series against Australia, where every ounce of resources will be used to try and win the Urn back from Australia. This could be to the detriment of the World Cup defense. As players may be pushed to the limit to win the Ashes series. And if that means missing a 50 Over World Cup, then so be it.
To put it bluntly, the Ashes will get priority over the World Cup.
And this is what might make Ben Stokes decide not to come out of international 50 Over retirement. Stokes is front and center of this England Test team. And winning the Ashes back as captain would have to rank alongside some of his greatest cricketing achievements.
Stokes is also an honorable guy. And if he thinks he won't be able to give it his all for the World Cup cause, due to leading the Test team, it's highly likely he won't return. He isn't the sort of guy to take up a space in the squad purely because of who he is.
Stokes will only consider coming out of 50 Over international retirement if he feels he can contribute fully. And if it won't affect his role as England Test team captain.
Where does this leave England?
In a state of limbo is the short answer. But England's T20 team was in a similar situation a year or so ago. And just before the competition started, they were dealt a huge last minute blow with Jonny Bairstow being ruled out by a freak injury sustained playing golf.
JUST IN: Jonny Bairstow is out of the third Test vs SA and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
"Bairstow sustained a lower limb injury in a freak accident whilst playing golf on Friday in Leeds," the ECB said. pic.twitter.com/qN4eLPtPmP
— Cricbuzz (@cricbuzz) September 2, 2022
What this shows is just because England currently look a bit all over the place at 50 Over cricket, doesn't mean they will be like this by the time they get to India for the World Cup. And if they have to make some last minute adjustments, as they showed with Jonny Bairstow in the T20 World Cup, England can adapt to changes in situations.
It's too early to judge England at the moment. Stoke might leave it until after the Ashes to decide whether to play or not. One thing that is for sure is that it will be Ben Stokes who will ultimately make the decision. He's shown the world over and over again just what a quality cricketer he is. And with that, he's earnt the right to make his own choice.