Cricket-England not over-reliant on Stokes, says Buttler

By Amlan Chakraborty

AHMEDABAD (Reuters) – Captain Jos Buttler said England are not over-reliant on Ben Stokes and that their nine-wicket thrashing by New Zealand in their World Cup opener was not down to the all-rounder’s absence.

Stokes played a key role in England’s 2019 ODI World Cup triumph, named Man of the Match in the final at Lord’s, and was their top scorer in the final of the Twenty20 edition last year when they defeated Pakistan.

The 32-year-old came out of ODI retirement in August but is only playing as a batter in the 50-overs format.

His record-breaking 182 against New Zealand at the Oval last month justified his recall but a minor hip injury kept him out of Thursday’s match which New Zealand won with 13.4 overs to spare.

“I think Ben’s a top player but we’ve got many top players,” Buttler said after England’s horror start to the their title defence in Ahmedabad.

“I think everyone in the team got into double figures and we didn’t have enough guys go on and make telling contributions.

“It’s not just Ben who is able to score runs in our team. We’ve got brilliant players right throughout the squad.”

With England not risking Stokes so early in the tournament it was a gilt-edged opportunity for Harry Brook to impress at number four. The 24-year-old began brightly before a soft dismissal for 25.

Joe Root (77) managed a half-century, while Buttler (43) and Jonny Bairtstow (33) also got starts but England could only manage 282-9 on a decent batting track.

“We weren’t quite clinical enough with our shot-making and gifted New Zealand a few wickets,” said Buttler.

“We were a long way short of our best and still made 280, which shows the level that we can play at.”

England will look to deliver a big win next up against Bangladesh in Dharamsala on Tuesday to boost their net run-rate, which could come into play later in the tournament.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty; Editing by Peter Rutherford)