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T20 World Cup 2022

How can England fit Stokes and Brook into the same T20I XI?

How Can England Fit Stokes And Brook Into The Same T20I XI?
by Katya Witney 4 minute read

Harry Brook’s explosive T20I form has given England a headache: How do they get Ben Stokes into the starting XI for the T20 World Cup?

Brook’s innings of 81* off 35 balls in Karachi along with his maturity and manner in which he has scored his runs have made him near undroppable at No.5. Less than a month out from their opening game of the World Cup against Afghanistan, Jos Buttler has yet to establish his best XI among an injury crisis in which many fringe players have taken the opportunity to make their mark.

Ben Duckett has also grabbed his chance with consistent scoring at No.4 and an innings of 70* off 42 balls in the third match in Karachi. Moeen’s return to form with the bat alongside the rest, and his role as stand-in captain in Buttler’s absence has left England with a glut of in-form middle order batting talent to choose from.


Stokes hasn’t played a T20I since March 2021 and has been on a break from cricket since the last Test of the summer. He will have just three warm-up matches against the World Cup hosts, Australia, to catch up with the rest. Despite this, few will be able to argue he doesn’t figure in England’s best XI.

With Buttler back from injury, England’s opening partnership looks fairly solid. Alex Hales will likely be favoured to partner Buttler over Phil Salt who has had a lean series in Pakistan. Another task for Stokes will be to re-establish his reportedly “strained” relationship with Hales following the Notts batter’s return to the side after a three-year absence.

Liam Livingstone is also set to rejoin the side in Australia after an ankle injury prematurely ended his Hundred campaign with Birmingham Phoenix. He is likely to slot straight back into England’s XI but his lack of game time in the last couple of months means he will also have to be tested in England’s three warm-up games.

Assuming his form and fitness are no longer concerns by the time of England meet Afghanistan, he should slot in below Brook at six, where he has spent most of his England T20I career. That leaves Stokes to move up to four, where Rob Key suggested he would play when announcing England’s T20 World Cup squad.

In this scenario, if Moeen is to play alongside Stokes, Brook and Livingstone he would be looking at batting at No.7 which would limit England’s bowling options and leave them having to find four overs between Stokes and Moeen. Given the flatness of Australian pitches, Moeen’s off-spin may not be as potent as elsewhere, leaving Stokes to pick up the extra overs. England have favoured having the extra bowling option over prioritising batting depth in the Mott-Buttler era.

Another option would be leaving out Dawid Malan, and promoting Stokes and Brook up the order, or asking Moeen to fill in at No.3, role he is more than capable of fulfilling given his history of batting up the order in franchise cricket and the T20 Blast. That would leave England free to pick a bowling all-rounder, likely Sam Curran, at No.7 and give them more options with the ball on potentially high-scoring pitches.

Malan hasn’t had the most rewarding series against Pakistan with a high score of 20, but even so dropping him would be harsh considering his form in The Hundred and would also leave England without a batter to anchor their innings. Malan’s technique is also rated as being primed for taking on fast bowling on hard Australian pitches. However, with Stokes back in the XI, he is more than capable of filling that role at No.4. Malan is also the highest-ranked England batter in the ICC T20I rankings; it would be a big call if the selectors were to leave him out.

Whatever combination England chooses to go with, the depth of England’s middle-order batting options is surely a better problem for the selectors to have than a drought.

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