England news

Stokes wants to lock away anger

George Dobell

April 17, 2014

Comments: 20 | Text size: A | A

Ben Stokes was surprised by a short ball first up, West Indies v England, 3rd ODI, Antigua, March 5, 2014
Ben Stokes had a difficult time in West Indies after the promising tour of Australia © AFP
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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 ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (April 20, 2014, 10:55 GMT)

Stokes thinks he's all that cause he hit one hundred in tests and took a fiver in both odi and tests. But the truth is he is just another player who is overrated but will never have a huge career. Jordan and woakes r more committed all rounders therefore they will play more cricket internationally in white and red ball cricket

Posted by yorkshire-86 on (April 19, 2014, 11:25 GMT)

4 seamers as in 8-11 all seamers and relying on batsmen who can bowl a bit as spinners. Playing Stokes or Flintoff as the 4th seamer is fine, as long as you have a front line spinner.

Posted by Diaz54 on (April 19, 2014, 3:13 GMT)

Another big headed over rated player who gets carried away with one small success. Public gets fooled as well as so called experts on sky and other commentary channels. They would not see that way with any other player doing the same from certain background.,I don't want elaborate, but that's the way the society and supporters work.

Whilst he may make it other countries have many such players who don't have that misguided arrogance, because the system does not allow it!

Posted by dunger.bob on (April 18, 2014, 23:12 GMT)

I'll attempt to explain what I meant in my previous post.

@ switchmitch: I agree that punching lockers, brick walls, I-beams etc is not smart. He would be far better off hitting the ball and the fence with the ball. When bowling, hitting the stumps and/or the batsmen. .. In other words, channel that passion and aggression into something that will help the team.

@ Narkovian: I can only shake my head at your post. Bradman, Tendulkar etc were not aggressive players? Of the bunch you pointed out, only perhaps Dravid came across as non-aggressive but that was an illusion. He was aggressive with his defence, if you know what I mean. .. All, and I mean ALL, top players in any sport have to have an aggressive approach or they simply get swallowed up and spat out.

Properly used aggression is not ranting and raving. It's all about jamming it right up the opposition by playing tough and not giving them an inch. An aggressive player sees an inch, takes a mile.

Posted by JG2704 on (April 18, 2014, 19:59 GMT)

@Narkovian on (April 18, 2014, 8:42 GMT) And there are some aggressive players - particularly bowlers - who have aggression in them who could be described as legends.

Lillie,Holding,Roberts,Marshall,Miandad ... all had aggression about them.

I'd say Dale Steyn is one of the most passionate/aggressive players today and IMO is the best player by far in the last decade

Posted by JG2704 on (April 18, 2014, 19:53 GMT)

@DaveMorton on (April 18, 2014, 10:32 GMT)Agree. The fact is that we were particularly woeful with the bat in Australia and I think that's the only time we played 4 seamers. We could have played 11 batsmen and 4 seamers and we'd still have lost

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (April 18, 2014, 19:37 GMT)

@DaveMorton (post on April 18, 2014, 10:32 GMT): In 2005 didn't we have Ashley Giles, so the side was 5-1-5 ish albeit with Flintoff in cracking form as an all-rounder? I do think a spinner is essential in tests to mix things up; you're right though - the key is contrast instead of all this metronomic/samey stuff England insist on sticking with.

@JG2704: conversely, I saw Stokes as a short fuse but low impact kinda character. Too much silly talking in Aus. during bowling - not so much batting though thank goodness. I do think think there's potential definitely there, but I'd hate to see England use him as part of a four-man bowling attack. 5-1-5 is the only way he could be useful.

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 17:48 GMT)

I hope they leave the door open for Stokes...as it were.

Posted by SDHM on (April 18, 2014, 16:40 GMT)

The challenge isn't to eradicate this part of Stokes' nature, it's to channel it correctly. I'd hate to see people try and dilute the obvious passion and combativity he has, it'll be a huge strength if he can harness it. Can't wait to see him back on the field.

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 12:02 GMT)

@mukesh_LOVE.cricket: Without any support he'll do a good job of ruining himself - come to think of it, just like Flintoff did.

I can't fathom why so many people think that breaking stuff in the dressing room (or injuring oneself in the attempt) is a display of 'passion', and somehow a good thing - it just shows that the player in question can't control his temper. Stokes's father calling him a 'wally' sums it up pretty well, especially if it isn't the first time he's done it.

I'm sure most of us have had a bad day at work sometimes, but how many of us respond by breaking the office water cooler? And if we did, would we expect the manager to be impressed at the 'passion' we clearly had for our job - or to send us the bill for a new water cooler?

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