It doesn’t happen often that an England captain compares himself to a Chelsea football player on the eve of the Test summer. The comparison makes sense, though, given the responsibilities that a modern cricketer like Ben Stokes must meet.
A few days after Chennai Super Kings triumphed in an exciting final in Ahmedabad, the all-rounder quipped to the press during press commitments at Lord’s, “I played a little bit of a John Terry role winning the IPL.” Despite missing the championship game against Bayern Munich due to suspension, Terry famously raised the Champions League trophy in 2012 while wearing his full Chelsea uniform. While Stokes did not receive a full yellow card, a player who joined the team for about £1.6 million but only made two appearances will soon receive a winner’s medal. On April 3, the final one occurred.
Stokes has been back in the country for two weeks, and while England was staying at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington for the Ireland Test, he used his phone to watch the Ravi Jadeja-inspired triumph over the Gujarat Titans. After winning a fifth IPL championship, he’ll probably also receive a win bonus and any other bonuses the owners decide to give the playing group.
Given Stokes’ current situation, Ledley King might be a more appropriate England center-back to use as a comparison. King, a legendary player for Tottenham Hotspur, endured problems with his left knee throughout his career, which are somewhat comparable to those the Test captain has been battling with since 2017. King overcame his problem by limiting practice time in-between games. Stokes is doing the same.
James Anderson, 40, is an example that Stokes has chosen to follow by limiting his bowling between games. He hasn’t bowled a single over this week because he thinks his body has much more life left in it than its 31 years.
On Wednesday, he stated, “Before, I didn’t have to worry about it. “I could just bowl continuously and arrive rather fresh. Now that I’m probably unable to accomplish that, organizing everything properly in between games is definitely the most crucial aspect.
The problem about me is that the rest of my body can function with very little bowling. I can take a lot of time off before swiftly regaining it. Whether or not I bowl in this game is not the end of the world.
However, he certifies that he is well enough to bowl at Lord’s if necessary and to send down however many overs are required of him during the Ashes as well. It is a significant improvement in attitude beyond everything else, even at face value. After the New Zealand series at the end of February, he was deflated by his knee, which in turn was impacting his batting. His net sessions this week indicate that isn’t the case anymore.
Before playing in the IPL, there were worries that Stokes would return from India even more damaged than before, but those worries did not come true. Instead, he used the greatest T20 tournament in the world as a glorified training camp due to a lack of playing time.
Stokes remarked, “I think I would have preferred to be playing.” “I then saw that as an opportunity to train rather than play and then top off as the competition progressed. As soon as you enter the competition, you can play, travel, and do other things of that nature. As a result, I was actually able to turn a negative situation around because I was able to properly train, whether it was technical work with the bat or fitness-related work at the gym, and I was also able to focus on something else.
And instead of feeling unhappy that I wasn’t playing, that was a really excellent way to get through that extended period. So, looking back, you might say that only playing two games was frustrating, but I was still able to do something else. Every cloud has a silver lining, so as I sit here, I’m genuinely considering that it might have been a blessing in disguise. And I helped the IPL win a little bit like John Terry did!”
The effort put forth is evident. Stokes would never admit to being overweight, at least not to his face, but his more prominent cheekbones indicate that he has returned to the lean physique that helped him have such a successful year in 2019. It will help him deliver as a useful allrounder this summer since a bowler of his pace will put around eight times his body weight through his problematic left knee at the moment of delivery.
You might view Stokes’ use of the IPL as a training camp as a clumsy win for the game’s ardent traditionalists, but only a player of his caliber has the right to do so given the game’s current trajectory. His standing with CSK, who intend to have him lead them in the future when MS Dhoni decides to retire, was unaffected by his lack of playing time. However, they might reconsider extending it under the same conditions in 2023.
Stokes is a bit of an aberration, albeit a very unique one given his circumstances, to have returned prepared for the red ball, even in the absence of a run-out in the County Championship for Durham. Before a home season in which the longest format is pondering its very existence, as franchise competitions proliferate and encroach on hitherto sacrosanct ground, Stokes — a self-described “huge advocate of the Test format” — acknowledges both codes are competing with one another. Nevertheless, not always for the worse.
“The entire environment and the entire game of cricket are practically changing before everyone’s very eyes so swiftly. I believe that T20 cricket and Test cricket can continue to thrive and flourish together.
“Take a look at what Twenty20 cricket has done for the game overall, the level of interest it has generated, the new fans and players it has attracted to the sport, regardless of the format. Additionally, consider the benefits T20 has brought to Test cricket. Although the transition between the two games is very different, you will occasionally see the T20 side emerge during Test matches since the players have been using it. Therefore, I can’t imagine a scenario in which T20 and Test matches won’t be played in the future.
He concedes that with the anticipation around the next five-Test series against Australia, dedication to a style of cricket based on avoiding risk and blue-ticking anxiety may be a bit difficult.
He described the suspense as being difficult to ignore and fail to notice. It’s difficult to ignore and be unable to see the excitement. I have no idea how this Ashes build-up period compares to 2005.
Ireland comes first, though. Even the visitors view a one-time, four-day match as a diversion given their own greater reward of June’s World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe. a warning that, notwithstanding any uncertainty about the new world, the old one was anything from equal.