England are world-class even without Ben Stokes says New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson

Kane Williamson insists New Zealand will not get sidetracked by the imminent return of Ben Stokes for the first One Day International against England.

Stokes is set to return for England and play his first international match since being arrested outside a Bristol nightclub five months ago.

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But England, who put a disappointing Ashes campaign behind them by beating Australia 4-1 in a ODI series, are already an exceptional team without Stokes, according to Williamson.

Asked about the Stokes factor, Williamson said: “There are a number of quality match-winning players in the English side. It’s tough to focus on one name.

“They are very aggressive with the bat, and their balance is one of their biggest strengths with the number of all-rounders.

“England are one of the best sides in one-day cricket at the moment, having just played against a strong Australian side and been so successful.

“We know it’s a tough challenge, but one the guys are looking forward to.”

England managed just one win from four matches in the T20 tri-series that preceded the five ODIs they play against New Zealand.

England captain Eoin Morgan says Ben Stokes has trained well but is under no pressure to bowl 10 overs if he plays in the first ODI against New Zealand

And England skipper Eoin Morgan knows his team face an exacting task against opponents who have won all eight of their ODIs at home this year, trouncing West Indies and Pakistan.

“Before the Australia series, I said these two series had the potential to expose some of our weaknesses as a side, and we have to be open to improving on them,” added Morgan.

Powerful. Inventive. Destructive. Watch England take on New Zealand in the first of five ODIs live on Sky Sports Cricket, this Sunday from 12.30am

“New Zealand have been on a run, and have a well-balanced side. Adapting our game to conditions is an important part of it.”

Watch England take on New Zealand in the first of five one-day internationals, from 12.30am this Sunday on Sky Sports Cricket.

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