England cricket: who will fill the cavernous hole left by Ben Stokes following ODI retirement?

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Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali could be lead contenders to take on the role of team talisman.

Ben Stokes has left a gaping chasm in the England One Day International squad, after announcing his retirement from the one-day game on Monday.

The 31-year-old Durham all-rounder played in his 105th ODI game on Tuesday 19 July against South Africa, which marked the end of a stellar career in the 50-over format.

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He has long been England’s anchorman within that squad, creating problems for the opposition with his phenomenal batting, biwling and fielding skills that have continued to leave them mystified, and on occasion, starstuck.

Etched into the minds of cricket fans around the world is Stokes’ incredible feat at the 2019 World Cup where he dragged England from the jaws of defeat to a nail-biting and tear-jerking super over and eventual win over New Zealand.

Often known for being England’s saviour in times of trouble, his presence will be incredibly missed within the ODI squad’s dressing room, but it’s now time for another hero to emerge and take on the mantle.

Comparisons are often made between various cricketers, such as Stokes was set to be the next Freddie Flintoff, or is Ollie Pope the new Ian Bell, and while it is hard to avoid such likenesses, they are, in practice, rather redundant.

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So while we may ponder on who is set to take over the reins following Stokes’ exit, that is by no means to suggest they will mirror his batting, bowling or fielding style.

However, what it does lend itself to is to mull over who might replicate the same fiery and invincible attitude, while also offering various iconic moments with which Ben Stokes became so synominous during his ODI career.

Liam Livingstone

The Lancashire all-rounder appears to already be marking his territory within the England dressing room and feels to be the perfect fit to take on the mantle of England’s game-changer when the chips are down.

Livingstone first came to prominence back in April 2015 when he smashed a score of 350 from just 138 balls for his local club side Nantwich - a score which is reported to be one of the highest individual scores in one-day history.

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Livingstone celebrates wicket at T20 World Cup finalLivingstone celebrates wicket at T20 World Cup final
Livingstone celebrates wicket at T20 World Cup final | Getty Images

Having been on the fringes of the England squad over the past few years, he firmly drove himself into the side after a stunning tournament at The Hundred, where he led the Birmingham Phoenix from the front - scoring two hundred more runs than anyone else in the competition.

His ability to bowl both leg and off spin offers something remarkably rare in cricket, and at 28-years-old, the time feels right for Livingstone to shine now he can move out of Stokes’ towering shadow.

The all-rounder has played just nine ODI matches, achieving a batting average of 33.7 and bowling average of 26.5.

He proved at both The Hundred and the T20 World Cup back in 2021 that he has what it takes to perform on the big stages, changing the game on more than one occasion to bring his side back from the brink.

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Now, all that remains is to keep this ferocity and intensity at a consistent level, which will allow England to have a middle-order anchorman on whom they can persistently rely on.

Moeen Ali

A firm fan favourite, Moeen Ali has also been in and out of the all of the England squads due to frustratingly inconsitent form.

He has, however, enjoyed a recent resurgence in his abilities and dragged England back from what could have been a humiliating series defeat against India in the recent T20 series.

Ali has played in 119 ODI matches for England, racking up a batting average of 25.53 and taking a total of 92 wickets.

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Ali during England’s first ODI v South Africa Ali during England’s first ODI v South Africa
Ali during England’s first ODI v South Africa | AFP via Getty Images

He has produced mind-blowing innings, including a 53-ball century against West Indies - England’s second fastest ODI century ever.

Like Livingstone, it is a matter of providing consistency for Ali if he is to maintain his spot within the order.

However, if his recent form continues there should be no reason why he and his all-rounder/spinner partner Liam Livingstone cannot get England back to where they should be, and soon.

Notable names

Joe Root and Jos Buttler are two other names who will obviously be strong contenders to become England’s newest anchorman.

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Root recently put all criticism to shame in his recent innings against South Africa as he hit 86 off just 77 balls, but coming off the back of resigning his post as Test captain, the Yorkshireman will keep his focus on maintaining his form and enjoying the lack of additional pressure.

Similarly, Jos Buttler has lived up to all the ‘Universe Jos’ nicknames and hype, but his recent additional responsibility as captain of the side will mean his focus will not be centred on creating those iconic moments, but creating an overall team legacy that will see England’s white-ball side reign supreme.

The England vs South Africa second ODI will take place on Friday 22 July 2022 at 1pm BST. It will be played at Old Trafford and is available to watch on Sky Sports.

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