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.”
“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.”