England captain Ben Stokes said an “awkward” changing room meeting with a new fan of Test cricket has underlined his faith in the team’s dynamic ‘Bazball’ method.
A policy of all-out attack has paid rich dividends since Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum joined forces last year, with England winning 11 out of 14 Tests.
But a thrilling two-wicket defeat by arch-rivals Australia in last week’s Ashes opener at Edgbaston led several former England internationals to warn Stokes’s men would need to curb their attacking instincts if they were to level the five-match series at Lord’s, where the second Test starts from Wednesday.
Stokes, however, is convinced England’s approach remains both their best chance of winning and attracting new fans to the red-ball game, with that belief reinforced by a chance encounter during a recent family break at Durham’s Seaham Hall hotel.
“I had a conversation in the men’s changing room at a spa about the game, which was a bit awkward,” Stokes told reporters at Lord’s on Tuesday.
“He said ‘are you the cricketer or do you just look like him?’ And I was like, yeah, it is me. He just said, ‘I went down to the pub after work and I don’t even follow cricket, I was just going to go down for a quick few’. He ended up having a few more and said he was just transfixed on the game.”
Stokes, adamant England “always want to win every game we play”, added: “So when you hear stuff like that it obviously makes you feel good about what we’re doing, that it’s bringing a new fanbase to the game and it’s reaching people that it might never have reached before.”
Meanwhile, Stokes said that even though England first-choice spinner Jack Leach had suffered a series-ending back injury before the first Test only for replacement Moeen Ali to incur a finger problem at Edgbaston, a parable from opener Zak Crawley had helped stop him believing events were conspiring against his side.
“You could think like that, but Zak actually made an unbelievable speech yesterday in the huddle,” he said. “
“It was around a Chinese farmer and luck. One thing happens and it might not mean it’s the end of the world. You don’t know why things happen, if it’s for a good reason or not, it’s just one of those things to deal with.”
England XI: Ben Duckett, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (captain), Jonathan Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson, Josh Tongue, James Anderson
Australia Probable Playing XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
Australia Squad: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey(w), Pat Cummins(c), Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Marsh, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Harris, Matt Renshaw, Josh Inglis, Todd Murphy
England Squad: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes(c), Jonny Bairstow(w), Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson, Josh Tongue, James Anderson, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Daniel Lawrence, Matthew Potts, Rehan Ahmed
Series: The Ashes, 2023
Match Details: England vs Australia, 2nd Test
Venue: Lord’s London
Date & Time: June 28-July 02, 3:30 PM IST
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