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April 17, 2014
Ben Stokes has admitted he needs to mature if he is to fulfill his potential after missing the World T20 in Bangladesh when he broke his wrist punching his locker in frustration following his dismissal in the third T20I against West Indies.
While Stokes was a rare glimmer of gold amid the rubble of England's Ashes tour - he hit a century in his second Test in Perth and claimed a six-wicket haul in the first innings in Sydney - he has conceded that the occasional "moment of stupidity" has done him few favours.
Stokes was also sent home from an England Lions tour of Australia in early 2013 due to two "breaches of discipline" and has admitted that he also broke a bone in his hand in similar fashion a few years ago. On that occasion, when he was 15, Stokes lashed out at a fire door.
Stokes' frustration in Barbados was understandable. His first-ball duck meant he had scored just 18 runs in his previous seven international innings and England had already slid to a series defeat against West Indies.
"I was disappointed that things had not gone well personally and it got the better of me," Stokes told ESPNcricinfo. "I'm very passionate about cricket, but unfortunately it came out in a way I regret in Barbados. Looking back, it is a lesson learned. I need to show that passion on the pitch, but I need to keep it there and not bring it off the field.
"It's a matter of handling it a bit more maturely. Punching lockers isn't the way forward for anyone. There's only going to be one winner there.
"I did it when I was a lot younger and I thought I'd moved on from it. I broke a bone then as well. It wasn't a locker; it was a fire door and it was when I playing club cricket."
The England team management did not censure Stokes. Instead they appear to have viewed his self-inflicted absence from the World T20 and a certain amount of public embarrassment as punishment enough. No doubt his relative youth - he is only 22, after all - was taken into account.
"Ashley Giles didn't say much to me on the matter," Stokes said. "He didn't need to.
"He knew that the worst punishment was missing the World Cup. I was really looking forward to it. Nothing he could do could be as bad as anything he could have said. It would have been my first global event.
"The management were obviously disappointed and I let them know that I was disappointed with myself. I spoke to the team before I left and said I was sorry for letting them down."
But Stokes hopes that the ECB will not hold the incident against him. "I hope the ECB look at it as a moment of stupidity and know that I know I made a big mistake," he said. "I hope I don't give them an opportunity not to play me because of my attitude. That is something I make sure I'm on top of. It is a big thing, attitude. That was part of how I was brought up by my old man."
That 'old man' is Ged Stokes, the former New Zealand rugby league player and now a coach, who was as underwhelmed as anyone by his son's flash of temper.
"He wasn't best pleased," Stokes said. "He just called me a wally."
While no firm date has been set for his return, Stokes hopes it should be in mid-May, meaning he should be fit and firing ahead of the Test series against Sri Lanka which starts in mid-June.
He also hopes to feature in Durham's T20 season, which starts on May 16. The competition - the NatWest T20 Blast - has been re-launched this year, with matches to be held, predominantly, on Friday evenings across 12 weeks of the season, allowing spectators to plan their trips to matches.
"I'm really looking forward to being part of it," he said. "Hopefully the regular slot on Friday nights will help us see some big crowds and generate a great atmosphere. It should become more of an event.
"I'm probably a more consistent red ball cricketer than I am white ball at the minute. I haven't got a consistent role with one-day cricket at the moment, particularly with England, so I can't wait to get back on the pitch and be a part of it. I'd love the opportunity to show what I can do and bat higher up the order for Durham and England."
Ben Stokes was speaking ahead of the start of the NatWest T20 Blast season. Blast Off is Friday 16th May, tickets can be purchased from www.ecb.co.uk/natwestt20blast
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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