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I love playing Test cricket and felt we could do something different: Ben Stokes on leading England's turnaround

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New Delhi, Dec 26 (Ajit Weekly News) England Test skipper Ben Stokes said the secret behind leading the turnaround of the side was that he loves playing the longest format of the game and with him being the captain, something different could have been done to change the fortunes of the team.

When Stokes succeeded Joe Root as Test captain in April, England had won just one of their past 17 Tests, including a 4-0 Ashes drubbing in Australia and a series defeat in the West Indies.

With former New Zealand captain, Brendon McCullum as head coach, Stokes has led England from the front with an attacking display of Test cricket, which has seen them get victories over New Zealand, India (at Birmingham), South Africa, and more recently, a historic 3-0 triumph in Pakistan.

“Test cricket has been spoken about in a way I don’t like. It is losing the attention of the fans with all the new formats and franchise competitions. We understand there are so many opportunities for players away from Test cricket. But for me, it is so important for the game. I love playing Test cricket and felt we could do something different.”

“Taking the result away from the mindset is a great starting point. Putting the focus on making every day entertaining. Not allowing people to know what is going to happen. If people turn up excited about what they are going to watch you’ve already won before a ball has been bowled,” said Stokes to legendary England all-rounder Ian Botham on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday.

Stokes also believes that the cramped scheduling is not the ideal way for international cricket to make progress. Stokes himself retired from ODIs in July, citing that playing three formats of the game at the international level was “unsustainable”.

Stokes came back to the T20I team for the Men’s T20 World Cup, hitting an unbeaten 52 in the final to help England win the trophy for the second time in the format at the MCG in November.

“The scheduling doesn’t get enough attention that it should. A great example is England’s one-day series against Australia after the T20 World Cup. That was shoving three games in there. It made sense to someone to schedule a series which meant nothing.”

“Some people say ‘you are playing for England, that should be enough’. But there is a lot more to factor in. You want international cricket to be the highest standard. But we have seen a lot of different squads being picked and players being rested, and that’s not the way international cricket should go.”

Stokes had taken a five-month break from competitive cricket in July 2021 to prioritise his mental well-being after a difficult few years that included the death of his father, Ged, in 2020.

The fast-bowling all-rounder hopes his experiences with mental health would encourage others to come out and help change the narrative around taking breaks for mental well-being, something which was showcased through his documentary titled ‘Ben Stokes: Phoenix From The Ashes’, which was released earlier this year.

“It is perceived that men should’t be seen to show weakness, but I have never had an issue with expressing my feelings and opening up about It. I can’t tell you how much pride I had in myself for doing that after the messages I got from people I had never met.”

“I was really blown away by the effect that section of the documentary had on their lives, it pushed them to go and get help. Some of the messages were very emotional to read.”

–Ajit Weekly News

nr/bsk


News Credits – I A N S

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