Ben Stokes’ success shows that it’s worth taking the risk of other sports


aLore has it that some of the best Test Captains are those who have never had a job. Like Keith Miller – the respected and daring skipper of New South Wales – he never led Australia because he was always on the wrong side of the selectors and especially hated Miller’s way of playing cricket. Don Bradman. Or Shane Warne, who won 10 of 11 games as captain of Australia’s one-day team but lost to Steve Waugh in a Test job, perhaps the selectors should sack him. I have to say I didn’t. When his next scandal happened months later.

The English version of Percy Fender is said to have been an excellent leader of the mediocre Surrey team in the 1920s. Fender participated in 13 tests, but did not lead in any of them. His protégé Douglas Jardine did so, and they should have built up a body line between them.

Cricket tragedy mathematician GH Hardy spent his idle time compiling XI of all time. After he died, they wrote in his notes the philosophers Baruch Spinoza and Albert Einstein at the top, Moses and David in the middle, and God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit bowling. , with Fender being the opening at-bat and captain.

Fender, Miller and Warn have an unblemished record in the public imagination. I’ve never led, so I’ve never lost. So instead of lamenting what they did wrong, I dream about how those teams would have been different had they led them. Not that Australia really needed to improve.

The past year has seen Ben Stokes captain England, three series wins against New Zealand, South Africa and Pakistan, and a one-off match against India has made us feel like we are somewhere else. I felt like I was living in one of those fictional timelines. History of English cricket.

The England captain believes that, above all, games should be fun to play and fun to watch. A captain who takes cricket seriously like Miller, is willing to seek victory and risk defeat like Warne, and is a relentless ingenuity on the field like Fender.

Ben Stokes and his England team-mates celebrated their victory by taking the final wicket in the first Test in Pakistan last month.
Ben Stokes and his England team-mates celebrated their victory by taking the final wicket in the first Test in Pakistan last month. Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Players who see the game this way don’t often lead test teams. Especially in England, captains often go to best batsmen regardless of their actual aptitude. But I couldn’t convince someone who had a real feel for the role. Under Cook, England won his 41% of matches and under Root he was 42%. Both lasted longer than expected as there was no obvious candidate to succeed them.

It turned out that Stokes had been hiding in front of him the whole time. Even last year, there were good reasons to pass him off. The captain had beaten England’s two other great recent all-rounders, Andrew Flintoff and Ian Botham, and Stokes had just returned from a spell of rest he had taken for his mental health. There was no The list of contenders stretched to Stokes, Stuart Broad and Rory Burns, neither of which guaranteed a place in the team. And it was Sam Billings, who had apparently just debuted.

The risk turned out to be worth it. If you asked England’s managing director Rob Key, who was a savvy county captain, he’d probably say he always thought it was exaggerated anyway.

The truth is, it came at the right time for Stokes. His captain has gone from being humiliated by Carlos Brathwaite in the 2016 World T20 final to nearly losing his career in 2016 when he was charged with getting into a fight outside a nightclub. It has been shaped by everything he has gone through on and off the pitch. In 2018, we saw Eoin Morgan reinventing England’s one-day team, a hand that won the 2019 World Cup final, and a break from last year’s game. influenced his sense of leadership and importance.

Likewise, it was an opportune time for English cricket.The team had been in a slump after working joylessly through the pandemic and at a loss as to how to carry over their success in limited overs cricket to Test. Losing 4-0 at Ashes and flat-bottomed in the World Test Championship table, the team didn’t have much to lose when Stokes took over. He said it didn’t take much convincing to get them to start doing things differently. He had a key behind him and Brendon McCallum was a man who saw things the same way he did and the sport had a high performance review so he was free to make any changes he wanted. rice field.

It was interesting to hear new England Rugby Union head coach Steve Borthwick talk about admiring what Stokes and McCallum did just before Christmas. His boss, Rugby Football Union CEO Bill Sweeney, also mentioned it. All of a sudden, everyone wanted to be able to play the Stokes way, in any sport. Would Stokes simply ask what’s stopping them?


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