Monday, October 3

Ben Stokes calls on aspiring Test players to match England’s aggressive approach | England v New Zealand 2022

Ben Stokes watched as England buried New Zealand under a blizzard of boundaries to win the third Test and complete a series clean sweep before calling on professional players around the country to adopt the same hyper-aggressive approach if they have international ambitions of their own.

“I knew that everyone would buy into this mentality that me and Brendon [McCullum] wanted out of this team but I didn’t think it would go this well,” Stokes said. “I think these last three games should have sent a message to people who aspire to play Test cricket for England over the next two or three years at least.

“I would say it’s the manner you play, whether that be with the ball or bat in your hand, not necessarily your stats. Because what we want to do is build on this, and it’s not just about this moment, it’s about the future as well.”

By making a target of 296 look much more molehill than mountain at Headingley England became the first side ever to chase targets greater than 250 three times in a series.

“If we were on the wrong side of results in these games, if they’d played out the same way but we’d lost, I’d have walked off a very happy captain with the way everyone’s applied themselves, the attitude they’ ve given to every single day, every single session, every single hour of these three matches,” Stokes said. “I would like to think people watching know what they have to do to bang the door down and try to get in this team.”

Jonny Bairstow scored an unbeaten 44-ball 71 as England’s first series under Stokes’s captaincy, and with McCullum as coach, ended with spectacular speed. Across the series the Yorkshireman scored 394 runs at a strike rate of 120 and an average of 78.8. “Jonny knows what he’s in the team to do now, and he knows how he wants to play,” Stokes said.

Jonny Bairstow races to 71 not out to complete England’s run chase at Headingley. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

“That’s something he’s been able to do in white-ball cricket and he’s playing as if he’s got the colors on. For him to back up an amazing knock [in the second Test] at Trent Bridge with a performance in both innings this week was something very special.”

Kane Williamson, the New Zealand captain, was left to wonder how his side went from having England 55 for six in their first innings, well on top and 274 ahead, to end the game emphatically beaten. “In the last three matches we’ve found ourselves in positions of strength and perhaps ahead of the game, and there have been some incredible counterattacks which have come off in big ways for England,” he said.

“This game in particular, where we had them 55 for six and then see the game swing so quickly in a matter of two sessions… it was hard to stop. At times we’ve played worse and come away with better results, but credit to England and the way they put their mark on the moments that really mattered.”

With Ben Foakes recovering from Covid, Sam Billings has been added to an otherwise unchanged England squad for the Test against India which starts at Edgbaston on Friday.

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