I’m never happy with how I’m going, claims Stokes

Englands Ben Stokes celebrates reaching his century during Saturdays ICC Champions Trophy Group A win over Australia at Edgbaston (Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire).
Englands Ben Stokes celebrates reaching his century during Saturdays ICC Champions Trophy Group A win over Australia at Edgbaston (Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire).
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Ben Stokes is lifting English cricket to new heights by making sure he ignores all the hype about him.

The charismatic all-rounder had a full-house Edgbaston crowd either on their feet, or the edge of their seats, over and over again with his match-winning career-best century as England put Australia out of the Champions Trophy.

The adulation was hardly confined to the scene of his heroics either as a string of pundits joined thousands around the world lauding his unbeaten 102 after he and captain Eoin Morgan had thrilled the home support with their counter-attack in a 40-run Duckworth-Lewis victory.

As Australia head home from their damp-squib campaign, and England set their sights on Wednesday’s semi-final in Cardiff, Morgan and his opposite number Steve Smith both acclaimed Stokes.

Morgan recognises potential that is “through the roof”, and Smith acknowledged a “fantastic” cricketer.

Stokes can occasionally lose his cool in the middle, especially when bowling, but there was a precision about his sustained hitting on Saturday and afterwards his words were measured too.

Asked how he deals with the adulation, he said: “I just shut it out. You can do well one day and then not do well the other – and (then) you’re not as good as everyone says.

“(You need to) just keep your feet on the floor.”

Stokes has passed 50 in half of his last 10 one-day international innings – after his second century in three – bagged 11 wickets in the same time frame despite a knee injury that he reports is clearing up, and took the Indian Premier League by storm in his maiden campaign as its most expensive player.

He will not get carried away, though.

“I never feel I get too high and I never feel I get too low about things,” added the 26-year-old.

“That’s just how I go about it.

“I’m always looking to learn and am never happy with how I am going.

“I think once you get comfortable with what you’re offering it is dangerous territory to be in.”

He was prepared to describe his latest innings as perhaps his best so far in ODIs.

“I think so, in terms of chasing,” he said.

“I don’t think my record is too flash chasing for England. I think to beat a strong Australian side in the way we have just shows where we are at the moment.”

Stokes credits his IPL stint not necessarily for honing new skills, but for helping him deliver them under pressure.

“The whole thing with the IPL is the exposure you get to big moments in games, playing in front of a huge crowd all the time,” he said.

“You get exposed to those situations more.”

For that reason, when he and Morgan needed to arrest England’s faltering response to Australia’s 277-9 in Birmingham, there was no panic.

“At 35-3, you can just mentally look back to a time in the past and reflect, knowing you’ve been in that situation before and done well,” he said.

“Knowing that gives you confidence against some of the world’s best batsmen and bowlers.”

England under Morgan are committed to attack whenever possible and with players like the captain himself, Stokes, Jos Buttler and several others, they are well-equipped so to do.

“We are always going to try to take the positive route, regardless of the start we get,” said Stokes.

“(We’ll) play every good ball on its merit, but we know we have got to be aggressive and on the front foot, because that is what has made us such a dangerous team.

“Being 35-3 doesn’t mean there is any real reason to change that.

“We are boundary hitters, so we know that if we have a few dot balls it is not going to faze us.”

Stokes is unlikely to be among the squad of 14 set to be named by England this lunchtime to face South Africa in three Twenty20s this month.

England are expected to rest their Test regulars, who will take part in a round of Specsavers County Championship day-night fixtures starting on June 26 in preparation for this country’s first pink-ball Test against the West Indies at Edgbaston in August.

The Twenty20 squad will therefore be notable for the anticipated inclusion of several uncapped players, with omissions indicating those in line for Joe Root’s Test squads.

Lions captain James Vince is an obvious candidate to return alongside Ben Duckett – yet to play a Twenty20 international – with uncapped second-string team-mates such as Surrey’s Curran brothers and batsmen Liam Livingstone and Dawid Malan also in the reckoning.