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England skipper Stokes vows to keep attacking against Proteas

England will continue to employ their swashbuckling style of play against South Africa despite their innings defeat in the first Test against the tourists.

August 25, 2022
By Rory Dollard
25 August 2022

England captain Ben Stokes has vowed to keep swinging for the fences against South Africa, insisting the day has not yet arrived to “mellow down”.

Since taking over as Test skipper at the start of the summer Stokes has demanded his side play a proactive, ultra-aggressive style of cricket and has made a point of leading from the front.

“I want people watching going ‘he’s able to go out and do that in a difficult situation’.”

Ben Stokes

His commitment to those tactics has brought mixed results, with a top score of 75 not out in eight knocks but an innings defeat by the Proteas at Lord’s last week has not shaken his belief.

The 31-year-old accepts that circumstances may eventually bring out a more cautious side in him but do not expect to see it in the coming days at Old Trafford.

“Being the leader, I would never ask my team to do something I wouldn’t,” he said.

“There’s a bigger picture to it, if that makes sense.

“I’m sure there will come a time when it does have to mellow down a little bit but at this time, right now, I feel I’ve got a big responsibility to be the person hitting that message home.

“Be brave in everything you do.

“I want people watching going ‘he’s able to go out and do that in a difficult situation’.

“Even when we’re ahead I want to put even more pressure on them, for me that’s what it is.”

England’s final net session took place against a backdrop of a playlist populated by soft rock and retro pop, seemingly at the prompting of head coach Brendon McCullum, with Stokes giving a qualified thumbs up.

“There was a couple of songs where I have to walk over and skip, but there was a real good vibe at training,” he said.

“Sometimes nets can feel empty, lads just running in to bowl and batters batting, but having that stuff on in the background relaxes that mood a bit.

“It gets conversation going. We had nineties stuff on and were asking how Tres (batting coach Marcus Trescothick) would have danced to it in his pomp.

“It’s a really good environment.”

Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes is enjoying the environment about England’s Test team. (Nigel French/PA)

Stokes adopted a sterner tone when discussing perceived criticisms of his side, jabbing at those who have taken aim at the heavy manner of the Lord’s setback.

Offering a staunch defence of his team, including struggling openers Zak Crawley and Alex Lees, he said: “I look back on the first five games with me in charge, we’ve won four and lost one.

“We’ve got one of the most destructive middle orders in the world currently right now. We’ve got a spinner (Jack Leach) who’s taken 10 wickets at Headingley.

“For someone who apparently before that was not good enough to be an international spinner, he’s proved people wrong.

“We’ve got Jimmy Anderson and Broady who are ‘dinosaurs’ and they look like they’re enjoying every single minute they’re out there; they’re buying into a new way of playing even though they’ve been through a lot of different eras of cricket.

“We’ve got Ollie Pope who looks everything like a Test number three at the moment.

“Yes, the openers may feel under pressure but the thing I love about those two is even though they do want to be scoring more runs and contributing more, they’re brave enough and are buying into the team ethos.

“Something that I admire very much about those two young men is that they’re able to take themselves away from any sort of individual goals there may be and understand that the goals of the team are a lot bigger than the individual.

“I see nothing but positivity to come out of these five games even though the last game didn’t go well.

“If people can sit back and think about what I’ve just said they might think better about the position.”

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