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Ben Stokes played in a manner we have not seen since Ian Botham

Posted on | May 25, 2015 | Comments Off

It was a fantastic Test match with a thrilling win for England that has lifted the spirits of every cricket supporter in the country and we have found a new star in Ben Stokes.

The pitch gave every type of cricketer the opportunity to get into the game. Runs were scored at nearly four an over by both sides and yet every now and again the seam bowlers could bowl magic balls either cutting off the seam or bouncing wickedly.

The best thing for England besides winning was the emergence of Ben Stokes, who played in a manner we have not seen since Ian Botham.

His batting, first and second innings, lit up the whole match. It was uninhibited. Every time they bowled him a ball off length, he smacked it for four or six.

 

Allrounders have two strings to their bow so they can bat with freedom knowing they have the opportunity to take wickets.

I think this was a better batting performance than his century in Perth. At the Waca he scored runs in a lost cause. Here, the pressure was on but he set up an opportunity for England to win the match and he took the game away from New Zealand.

 

With the ball he dismissed the most technically correct player in their team – Kane Williamson – and the most dynamic in the captain Brendon McCullum. He roused the crowd when he was batting or bowling. He gave England belief they could win and it was exactly the kind of performance they needed after such a poor few weeks on and off the field.

Alastair Cook gave a masterful performance on the Saturday evening. England faced an awkward 30 over in poor light with the ball zipping about but he played it perfectly. The next morning the ball did the same thing for 40 minutes and he never looked in any bother. From then on it was a piece of cake for him. he is back to his best – letting the bowlers bowl to him and waiting until they make a mistake and put it in the areas he likes to score.

In one-day cricket you have to chase runs which is not his forte. In Test match cricket he can be patient and let the ball go outside off stump. There is time for him to make them bowl the ball where he wants it, not go looking for it and taking risks. He is like me. He is dead suited to playing a patient game.

His solid performance was the glue that held the whole team together like Williamson did for New Zealand in their first innings.

 

Joe Root is in the best form of his life. He has had a wonderful 12 months and is batting out of his skin. Joe is batting so well he thinks he can score off every ball, and probably can. The only danger for Joe is he might get over confident and get himself out.

When you are so confident, batting is a heavenly experience. You feel that regardless of what he bowls, you can score. You train and practice all your life to get that magical feeling. Long may it continue.

 

Ian Bell is in the opposite frame of mind. He does not know where the next run is coming from. In two innings in Grenada, two in Barbados and the first innings here he batted five times for 13 runs

His brain was so scrambled when he came out for the second innings on Saturday night he attacked the bowlers when the ball was moving around. He made a streaky 29 before the close and then got out on Sunday morning playing the same way.

 

Someone has to sit him down and talk to him He has the most talent, the biggest of range of strokes and his timing is perfect. Bell has everything. Yet his mindset is not doing his talent justice. Bell is fragile in the head and half of this game is played between the ears.

Mark Wood had a splendid debut. He has a short run-up but is explosive at the crease. He showed a great attitude, and bowled some wickedly quick deliveries. He is worth a few more goes.

 

The opening position is still posing a few questions. Adam Lyth will get another game at Headingley but it will not get any easier because Tim Southee and Trent Boult are good bowlers with the new ball.

It will get even tougher when Australia arrive. At Lord’s Lyth’s back foot did not move back and across to cover his off stump. He was too far away from the ball.

We really do need to find a quality spinner. Moeen Ali is doing ok but let’s be blunt – he is a batsman who bowls. Moeen spins it but lacks control and you have to be able to bowl the ball consistently in the right areas to keep the pressure on the opposition.

There will be lots of times on English pitches when he will get away with it because it is the seamers who win most Test matches. When we go abroad to places like UAE, India and Sri Lanka that is when you need high quality spin to win Test matches.

 

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