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Jos Buttler: 'Badgering' Ben Stokes into World Cup comeback would not have worked

England captain insists reversal of ODI retirement was 'Ben's call'

Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler celebrate another boundary in the World Cup final, England v New Zealand, World Cup 2019 final, Lord's, July 14, 2019

Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler will be back in harness for the 2023 World Cup  •  Getty Images

England limited-overs captain Jos Buttler left it to Ben Stokes to come out of ODI retirement and said "badgering" the allrounder would have been counter-productive to getting him back onboard for the upcoming 50-over World Cup.
Stokes, the hero of the 2019 World Cup and last year's T20 success, was officially drafted back into the 50-over set-up on Wednesday ahead of England's title defence in India this autumn. He had originally retired from the format last summer due to what he perceived as an "unsustainable" workload because of his commitments as Test captain and a relentless international schedule.
The 32-year-old had since waved away suggestions he would return to the format. He even highlighted the period between the end of the men's Ashes and the beginning of a five-match Test series against India in January 2024 as the ideal window to sort out the chronic issue in his left knee that has hampered his ability to bowl in recent campaigns.
Speaking on Wednesday after Stokes' return was confirmed after missing 11 ODIs - including nine over a winter for which he would probably have been rested - national selector Luke Wright stated it was not a case of "needing to beg". That sentiment was echoed by Buttler, who had been the selectors' sole point of contact given his close friendship with Stokes.
Having had the seed planted long before, Stokes reached out "a week or 10 days" after the Ashes concluded at the end of July to inform Buttler he wanted to return.
"To be honest, it was Ben's call," Buttler said. "You all know Ben pretty well by now - I don't think anyone talking to him would persuade him.
"We had some conversations quite a while ago about it and just left it to him to come to me, basically, if he wanted to come back. We're delighted that he feels ready to come back and any time you can welcome him back into the team is great.
"Ben is very much his own man, he makes his own decisions. I've played with him for a very long time, I'm good friends with him. Me badgering him and saying 'come back, come back' is not really the way things work with Ben. He very much makes up his own mind and decides.
"We had some conversations around it and just left it in his court. I'm sure the lure of playing in a World Cup is quite big for someone as competitive and as driven as he is to play in an England shirt. I'm delighted he felt up to it and could come back."
Stokes' one-day record is arguably his best of the three formats, scoring 2,924 runs at an average of 38.98 across 105 caps and 74 wickets at 42.39. The latter figure, however, was not a consideration with Buttler reiterating Stokes will play solely as a batter.
Moreover, his big-game prowess is invaluable as England look to make it three ICC limited-overs trophies out of four, having missed out on 2021's T20 World Cup. Stokes was player of the match in the 2019 ODI final, when his 84 not out took England to a Super Over in which he batted alongside Buttler, with the hosts eventually winning on boundary count after the scores were tied. Last November, he marshalled a chase of 138 at the MCG against Pakistan with 52 not out as England became the first team to hold both men's World Cups simultaneously.
"I don't think you need me to tell you what Ben Stokes brings to a team," Buttler said. "It's fantastic to have Ben back available. Any time a player of his quality is available again is fantastic. We're delighted to welcome him back."

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo