Thursday, June 01, 2023
England captain Ben Stokes expressed his confidence in the future of Test cricket as he prepared to lead his team in the upcoming Ashes series against Australia.
Stokes, who has been a vocal advocate for the traditional format, acknowledged the rapidly changing landscape of cricket but emphasised that Test cricket and T20 can coexist successfully. He highlighted the positive impact of T20 cricket in attracting new fans and players to the game and also noted how T20 has influenced Test cricket, with players incorporating aggressive T20-style play into the longer format. Stokes believes that both formats will continue to be played in the future.
Stokes' comments came ahead of England's red-ball season opener against Ireland, a four-day Test match at Lord's. There was some controversy surrounding the selection of the Irish squad, as they left out fast bowler Josh Little, who had recently participated in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and was being rested ahead of a World Cup qualification tournament. Richard Holdsworth, Cricket Ireland's high performance director, defended the decision, stating that the Lord's Test was not a significant event for his side this season.
Under the leadership of Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, England have adopted an aggressive style of play in Test cricket, known as "Bazball," named after McCullum's nickname. This approach has resulted in a highly successful run for England, winning 10 out of their 12 matches since Stokes and McCullum took charge in May the previous year.
The team has challenged conventional Test thinking, as seen in their remarkable innings of 506-4 on the opening day of a Test match against Pakistan in December. Stokes believes that the players' mindset switch and the absence of limits on what is possible have contributed to their improved performance.
Looking ahead to the Ashes series, Stokes expressed excitement and optimism, noting the build-up and anticipation surrounding the historic rivalry. He also hinted at the possibility of England scoring 500 runs in a day against Australia's formidable bowling attack, emphasising that anything is possible with the right mindset and support.
Stokes recently participated in the Indian Premier League with the Chennai Super Kings, where he focused on his batting and managed his workload. He expressed satisfaction with his preparation for the upcoming Ashes series and stated that his knee, which had been a concern earlier, was in a much better condition.