Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain discuss how Stokes and Woakes return to the side

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The English ODI cricket team has been in imperious form during their current series with Australia with an avalanche of runs and timely wickets leading them to a stunning string of victories against a shellshocked Aussie side.

This run of form has been made all the more remarkable as it has been achieved despite the absence of two of the stalwarts of their side.

Injuries to inspirational all-rounder Ben Stokes and bowler Chris Woakes added to a recent demoralizing shock defeat to neighbours Scotland, meant the English team began the series against their fierce rivals from Down Under under a bit of pressure.

Eoin Morgan's team, however, have responded brilliantly by dominating their opponents in all aspects of the game and even recording a world record score for an ODI with a jaw dropping 481 runs smashed off the Aussie bowlers during their third encounter.

Convincing wins in the first four games of the series has led to a debate in whether Stokes and Woakes should actually return to the team once they have regained their fitness.

Ex-England captains Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain, now ensconced in the Sky Sports commentary booth both think the duo should return but admit it will be very tricky deciding who to leave out

"You have to play Ben Stokes," Atherton said. "He gives you so much in all areas of the game; he's a destructive player, not that England are short of those! He is an extra bowler and the best fielder in the England team.

"Woakes gives you wicket-taking options with the new ball and excellent death bowling. He also offers you depth with the bat."

England v West Indies - 1st Royal London One Day International

Meanwhile, Hussain thinks England coach Trevor Bayliss should take a more flexible approach to team selection with the variety of options now at his disposal.

He added: "If you are going to leave one of Roy, Bairstow or Hales out then you'd better come in and perform.

"The older I've got the more I've gone 'horses for courses'. If it's a Trent Bridge sort of surface, do you need that extra batter? Do you need Joe Root going in with two or three overs to go? I'd have played the extra bowler there.

"But when you get to Cardiff in an ICC semi-final and it's a turning pitch, I'd want the extra batter.


"But yes, on a normal pitch, I would leave out whoever is the least in nick of Hales, Roy or Bairstow."

It's an argument that will be music to the ears of English cricket fans as suddenly there seems to be an abundance of talented one-day players and no one's place in the team is secure.

This time last year it seemed unthinkable that England could afford to even think about leaving out a player of the calibre of Ben Stokes but now that very debate is being raised.

England cricket
Chris Woakes
Ben Stokes
Joe Root

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