‘I’m not being cocky, we can beat anyone’: Ben Stokes believes England’s T20 side are making rapid strides towards completing a World Cup double
- Ben Stokes believes England can beat most teams when they play their best
- He says it is ‘scary’ to think how far they could go and how ‘strong’ they are now
- Stokes says he is ‘confident’ England can win the World Cup for a second time
- However, Stokes claims that they must ‘focus’ and not look ‘too far ahead’
There is little need for hyperbole when Ben Stokes considers the potential of an England Twenty20 side making rapid strides towards completing a World Cup double.
‘We know if we play to our best we can beat most teams,’ said Stokes after England showed their T20 power by demolishing South Africa here for a 3-0 clean-sweep.
‘That isn’t an arrogant thing to say. It’s where we’re at. It’s scary to think how far this team could go. We know how strong we are.
Ben Stokes believes England have what it takes to complete a World Cup double
‘There’s no selfishness. Everybody wants everyone else to do well, whether they’re in the team or not. Guys in the side want others to be knocking down the door. That’s a great place to be.
‘We always take the positive route. This team is not about doing things cautiously, and as this series got deeper we showed what we are about. It’s great to see guys playing so freely.’
England beat New Zealand at Lord’s in 2019 to win the 50-over World Cup
Stokes played a monumental part in England’s success and believes they can do it again
England were only at their best in the third game at Newlands, when Dawid Malan and Jos Buttler took apart an attack lacking Kagiso Rabada to reach a ‘challenging’ target of 192 with ease.
And perhaps the most frightening aspect of England’s emergence as favourites for next year’s World Cup is that their talisman has rarely been at his best in the shortest format. He averages just 18 in his 29 internationals and is far from being a regular bowler.
HOW DID ENGLAND WIN THE WORLD CUP
England and New Zealand were tied after batting for 50 overs each, sending the World Cup final to an unprecedented tie-breaker.
Both teams were given one over – six balls – to score as many runs as possible.
But the Super Over also failed to separate the sides, who scored 15 runs each.
As a result, the fate of the World Cup came down to which team had scored more boundaries – fours and sixes – during the final.
England racked up 24 boundaries, while New Zealand scored 16.
That gave England their first World Cup triumph in the most dramatic fashion possible.
But Stokes remains the first name on any England teamsheet and he headed home yesterday, after being given the one-day series off in anticipation of his busiest year yet, with hopes high of a golden 2021 to match 2019.
‘There’s a very familiar feeling about this squad with one year to go before the Twenty20 World Cup as there was with the 50-over team,’ said Stokes.
‘We’re very confident in our ability and what we’ve always done is focus on ourselves. We look at the other team and their strengths and weaknesses, but we put pressure on ourselves.’
If next year brings normality after the Covid crisis then England will rarely stop playing, and that means they will have to carefully manage their star players with the twin peaks of the T20 World Cup in India and the Ashes looming.
‘If I look too far ahead I’ll give myself a headache,’ joked Stokes. ‘Playing in all three formats, I’ve got to stay in the moment. I’ll just keep doing what I have been over the last three years and, fingers crossed, stay fit. That’s the big challenge. Next year is massive.’
Stokes, Jofra Archer, Malan, Sam Curran and Chris Jordan left the England camp yesterday and Joe Root, Chris Woakes, Olly Stone, Lewis Gregory and Liam Livingstone replaced them in an experimental 50-over squad.
But one player who must surely be handed his chance in tomorrow’s first one-day international at Newlands is Mark Wood, who was surprisingly absent from all three T20 internationals here.
‘I don’t think I need to make a point,’ said the paceman. ‘I’ve been training well and now there’s potentially an opportunity for me to play.
‘There’s no point banging doors down. The team will always come first.’
Stokes says England’s Twenty20 side are making rapid strides after demolishing South Africa
WINNERS AND LOSERS OF THE TWENTY20 SERIES
The figures speak for themselves — he’s now the first batsman to exceed the 900 mark in the world T20 rankings. Evidence, too, of a team mentality in taking a single on Tuesday to win the third game while leaving himself unbeaten on 99.
Eoin Morgan said before the series he knew ‘eight or nine’ of his first-choice T20 team and now that may be 10 after the younger Curran, already first-choice left-arm seamer, was preferred to Moeen Ali at seven and produced his best T20 figures of three for 28 in the first game.
The unlucky Wood’s stock may have risen in his absence here, particularly if he excels in the 50-over matches to come. Still very much in the hunt for a T20 spot.
Preferred to Wood because of his variations at the death but produced three expensive performances on the sort of slow pitches, certainly in the first two games, that England can expect in India in October for the World Cup.
Such a key figure in the World Cup triumph of 2019 but has had a dreadful time since through injuries and lack of form. Teams have worked out how badly he starts against left-arm spin, which he will face plenty of in the World Cup.
The one glaring absence in England’s T20 side is a second spinner, particularly with that World Cup in India ahead, and Moeen’s failure to play a single game was another sad example of his decline. Desperately needs to shine in these three 50-over games.
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