Ben Stokes says Australia’s clean-cut image will not last long

• ‘You want to stamp your authority with bat and ball’
• Jofra Archer misses chance to prove fitness

Ben Stokes expects Australia’s new clean-cut image to disappear once the Ashes get under way at Edgbaston on Thursday, with England’s newly restored vice-captain telling his teammates they must hit the tourists hard to lay down an early marker.

Just 18 days on from the emotional rollercoaster of the World Cup final, England must steel themselves for five Tests against an Australia side who have seemingly turned around their cricket since last year’s ball-tampering scandal.

Stokes, who missed the 4-0 defeat in 2017-18 while still under the cloud of the Bristol incident, is still expecting a battle over the next seven weeks and for flashpoints to arise.

He said: “It is weird Aussies trying to be nice to you. I think once you get out in the middle and cross the white line, the real competitive side of both teams will come out and Ashes are the biggest Test series played in the world.

“There is always something that happens between teams in Ashes series and I don’t think this will be any different. Both teams are desperate to win, both sets of players are desperate to perform because Ashes series are where you get scrutinised and criticised more, or praised if you do well.”

England, who have confirmed Joe Root will return to No 3 as Joe Denly drops down a spot, welcome back Jimmy Anderson after a calf problem. The uncapped Jofra Archer was denied the chance to fully prove his fitness on Tuesday when heavy rain in Birmingham forced training inside. Regardless of the XI, and the outcome of the toss, Stokes is demanding instant impact.

Jofra Archer
Jofra Archer was denied the chance to fully prove his fitness on Tuesday when heavy rain in Birmingham forced training inside. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

He said: “I think that first morning of any series is when you want to stamp your authority as a team with bat and ball. Getting off to a good start can make it flow throughout the series.

“You want to be the team on top and win that first day because hopefully that can carry on into the next four. If you go 1-0 down in a series it can be hard to come back from so you want to start very well.”

Asked how important it will be to get on top of David Warner, the firebrand opener who served a 12-month ban for his part in the Cape Town scandal, Stokes replied: “He is a player who can take games away from you. He is a phenomenal batsman and very dangerous opener. So to tie him down and not let him establish his authority against us would be a really big plus.

“We don’t want to give anything away to any of their batsmen. We want to let them know we are here to be serious and everyone in the changing room is desperately trying to get that urn back because it’s not good them having it.”

Such drive and passion from Stokes was absent from England’s Ashes campaign 18 months ago, when Root appeared slightly isolated as a leader. It led to Ricky Ponting, the former Australia captain, claiming he was like a “little boy” and “soft” when speaking publicly.

Stokes, who missed last week’s Test win over Ireland to recharge at home, has returned to the vice-captaincy. It is a reward for both his World Cup heroics and 18 months of hard work, with the all-rounder looking to repay his old friend.

He said: “What I’ve always tried to do is in the past is to take all the little pressures off Joe’s shoulders. He’s captain and all the pressures he has are ginormous. In an Ashes series that goes up 50%. There are other little things that can affect a captain mentally, so it’s a case of anything I can do to help him.”

Asked if he feels ready to step up and lead should Root go down injured in the series, Stokes said: “Touch wood, nothing does happen but I’ve played enough cricket now with this group – especially Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad – to understand what works for them. If anything happens I know I have a group of senior players who can help me through that.”

Contributor

Ali Martin

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Ben Stokes says ‘he never gave up’ in batting heroics to keep Ashes alive
Ben Stokes, England’s talismanic all-rounder, held his nerve with an unbeaten 135 that sealed a thrilling one-wicket win in the second Test against Australia

Ali Martin at Headingley

25, Aug, 2019 @10:58 PM

Article image
Cameron Bancroft joins Smith and Warner in Australia’s Ashes squad
Cameron Bancroft has been named in Australia’s Ashes squad, reuniting him with Steve Smith and David Warner for the first time since the sandpaper scandal in South Africa

Geoff Lemon

26, Jul, 2019 @12:01 PM

Article image
Ben Stokes warns Australia to expect more hostility from Jofra Archer
There will be no let-up from England’s fast bowler Jofra Archer for the rest of the Ashes, Ben Stokes has said, as Australia wait to see if Steve Smith can recover for the third Test

Ali Martin

19, Aug, 2019 @5:37 PM

Article image
England’s Ashes puzzles: what to do about Anderson, Roy – and Stokes | Tim de Lisle
Who makes room for Jimmy Anderson? Should Jason Roy be dropped or moved? And how do make sure Ben Stokes is still on song? There is plenty to ponder before the fourth Test

Tim de Lisle

29, Aug, 2019 @12:09 PM

Article image
Magnificent Ben Stokes is England’s greatest ever all-rounder | Moeen Ali
My friend’s feats at Headingley and in the World Cup final at Lord’s have elevated him above legends Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff. He is the best cricketer I have played alongside

Moeen Ali

26, Aug, 2019 @7:05 PM

Article image
Once troubled Ben Stokes now has a summer he will always own | Andy Bull
His career obituary was being written in 2017 but England’s Headingley Ashes hero has become the best version of himself

Andy Bull

27, Aug, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
Ben Stokes backs Jofra Archer to help England regain Ashes in Australia
‘I don’t think I’ve seen a more talented bowler,’ said Ben Stokes after Jofra Archer took 22 wickets in his first four Tests for England

Ali Martin

16, Sep, 2019 @6:56 PM

Article image
Spectre of Ben Stokes gives Tim Paine sleepless nights before Ashes battle
The Australia captain has been worrying how to get Ben Stokes out in the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford

Ali Martin

03, Sep, 2019 @5:04 PM

Article image
Ben Stokes inspires England to sensational third Test win over Australia
England completed one of the biggest comebacks in Ashes history to beat Australia in the third Test by one wicket with Ben Stokes scoring 135 not out to help level the series at 1-1

Vic Marks at Headingley

25, Aug, 2019 @6:09 PM

Article image
Australia’s Steve Smith seizes second chance in Ashes tale of two redemptions | Matthew Engel
Rather than being booed, Australia’s Steve Smith should be saluted as a brave and decent cricketer for his stirring batting performances against England

Matthew Engel

01, Sep, 2019 @4:04 PM