0England and Wales Cricket Board logoManagement Need to Stoke the Fire for Success

Wow, incred­ible, fant­ast­ic. I could go on: the list of super­lat­ives to describe the mag­ni­fi­cent (there, I’ve slipped anoth­er one in!) innings by Ben Stokes in the drawn second test has to rank along­side the best ever knocks in inter­na­tion­al cricket.
I know – points to this writer for stat­ing the bleed­in’ obvi­ous! What his innings does do though is high­light the need for Eng­land to be able to not only spot tal­en­ted indi­vidu­als such as Stokes but to nur­ture them and encour­age them to reach their full potential.
Play­ers like Stokes will have their bad peri­ods. But they will also have their moments of abso­lute pure bril­liance. Stokes is of the dia­mond stand­ard and it is vital that the Eng­land man­age­ment deal with him in a way that brings out the best in him. He needs to be man­aged as an indi­vidu­al as well as part of a team. Michael Vaughan was bril­liant at doing that when cap­tain. It remains to be seen what Joe Root will be like when he takes over from Cook (I sus­pect that will be after the cur­rent series has come to an end). So when Stokes gets a couple of ducks in a row and he bowl­ing is a little way-ward then stick with him and offer him whatever sup­port is required.
Kudos must go to the cur­rent set up – they are a stra­to­sphere away from where they used to be. I grew up watch­ing (more accur­ately suf­fer­ing) Eng­land in the 1990s and wit­nessed how two play­ers with over 76,000 first-class runs between them – Graeme Hick and Mark Ramprakash – were treated with dis­dain by their bosses. Ima­gine if those dia­monds had been pol­ished rather simply thrown on the scrap heap. That doesn’t mean, how­ever, that Eng­land have got it all right. Kev­in Pietersen of course springs to mind but there are oth­ers too. As long as you are good enough then you should be in the team.
Ben Stokes rep­res­ents the future for Eng­land. Not only can he bat but he can bowl too. Eng­land must not fall into the trap of over using him in both dis­cip­lines – he should be a fourth seam­er – i.e. very handy backup – to have him as a third seam­er in a three-pronged pace attack with Moeen provid­ing the spin option screams of a weak test match attack – espe­cially if one or both of Broad or Ander­son are out injured.

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