Ben Stokes: Sometimes we forget we are in the entertainment business

People come to watch us play because we are at the top level of our sport and sport is entertainment,” said Stokes, while talking about his approach to the game as a captain. 

FILE PHOTO: Since Ben Stokes’ elevation as England Test captain, the team has adopted an aggressive approach, resulting in four wins out of five matches.

FILE PHOTO: Since Ben Stokes’ elevation as England Test captain, the team has adopted an aggressive approach, resulting in four wins out of five matches. | Photo Credit: GETTY IMAGES

People come to watch us play because we are at the top level of our sport and sport is entertainment,” said Stokes, while talking about his approach to the game as a captain. 

As England’s Test captain, Ben Stokes has a lot on his plate. One of his priorities is to tone down the narrative around ‘Bazball’ that has taken English cricket by storm ever since he and coach Brendon McCullum took charge of the Test team.

“It has been an incredible start. We have won our first four games. One of my and Baz’s (McCullum) next job is to try and get ‘Bazball’ not be said as much as now,” said Stokes while promoting the Amazon documentary - ‘Ben Stokes: Phoenix from the Ashes’ - which talks about his journey to the top.

“The most pleasing thing to me is our mindset. We could have lost all four games. But, even if we had, we would still be thinking positively. Because we know people turned up to watch us play and they enjoyed every day of those Test matches,” added Stokes, who was appointed England’s Test captain earlier this year.

Since then, the all-rounder has led England in five Test matches, winning four of them. His first and only defeat so far has come against South Africa in the ongoing series.

“Something I have tried to bring in is to remove the pressure of international cricket among the players. Sometimes we tend to forget that we are in the entertainment business. People come to watch us play because we are at the top level of our sport and sport is entertainment,” said Stokes, while talking about his approach to the game as a captain. 

“So, we have to go out and entertain people for five days in a row, every session. And if we play good cricket, we give ourselves a good chance of winning. If we play poorly, we lose. It is simple,” he added.

The Player-of-the-Match of the 2019 World Cup final took the cricketing world by surprise last month after he announced his retirement from One-Day International cricket.

Speaking about some of the factors which led to this decision, Stokes said, “The people organising cricket need to look at whether this is the best way to get the best product out of our sport. At this moment, it doesn’t seem to be the way. Right now, there is series after series, with some even overlapping.”

“It is understandable at one level as cricket is playing catch up after COVID-19. But at a realistic level, we have to look at how much cricket people have to play. Because it is not just the games played but also the travel involved, time away from home, the expectations to perform, particularly on multi-format players,” Stokes added.

The former Rajasthan Royals player also highlighted the pressure on players who are regulars in the three formats.

“There is not going be a lot of players capable of playing all three formats because of the amount of cricket played. You are going from one format to another and there is so much cricket being packed into a small window. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is a sustainable model for players or the product you want to give out,” he added.

Ben Stokes: Phoenix from the Ashes launches on Prime Video on Friday, August 26.
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