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‘If you want to play for us, you’ll have to bat like us’…Stokes sends warning to England hopefuls

‘If you want to play for us, you have to bat like us’…Ben Stokes warns England’s future stars as skipper claims his side has brought fun back to testing cricket

  • Ben Stokes enjoyed England’s 3-0 series against New Zealand
  • Stokes insists hopeful players must produce top level batting to make the squad
  • England captain says the team has made people enjoy watching test cricket again
  • Stokes admits he was pleasantly surprised by the adaptation of the new team mentality

Ben Stokes sent a grim message to Test candidates across the country after England scored a remarkable 3-0 win over world champions New Zealand: If you want to play for us, you have to bat like us.

His team completed the whitewash quickly on the final afternoon in Leeds, with Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow finishing the remaining 113 runs in just 15.2 overs after rain delayed the start by two and a half hours.

It meant England had scored 4.54 runs per over across the series – their highest ever score for a series of three or more Tests.

Ben Stokes (center) led England to a 3-0 series against New Zealand

Ben Stokes (center) led England to a 3-0 series against New Zealand

“These last three games should have sent the message to people who want to play test cricket for England in the next two or three years,” he said.

“It’s not necessarily your stats or anything like that. It’s the way you play that will probably be in the minds of the selectors in the first place.

“What I think we’ve done in the last three weeks is make people enjoy watching test cricket again. And I’d like to think that people watching know what to do to try to close the door and get on this team.”

In successive Tests, England have knocked out goals of 277 in 78.5 overs, 299 in 50 and 296 in 54.2, taking five wickets, five wickets and seven wickets. The last two wins in particular have scored almost a day.

Stokes took over as Test captain in April and has made a perfect start in his new role

Stokes took over as Test captain in April and has made a perfect start in his new role

“I knew everyone would accept the new mentality that Brendon and I have developed with his team, but honestly I didn’t think it would go this well,” said Stokes. “I couldn’t have asked for more from anyone.”

McCullum spoke to UK media for the first time since the series started, telling Sky Sports it had been “an incredible few weeks.”

And he revealed that Stokes had suggested England try to knock the points on the fourth night, which should have left them with nearly seven and a half left.

“I’m aggressive, but I think he could cover for me,” McCullum said. “He came in last night and we needed 297 of 40 overs, ‘We’ll do it tonight with the extra half hour.’ I was like, let’s see how we get on!

Stokes and England head coach Brendon McCullum have brought a new mindset to the squad

Stokes and England head coach Brendon McCullum have brought a new mindset to the squad

“But he’s been excellent. He is clearly a leader that the boys want to follow. There have been key moments when the guys look around to see if he sticks to the same message. But it has been, “let’s head in the direction of the danger”. His ability to control the field was also fantastic. It makes my job as a coach very easy.’

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was asked if he thought it possible to hit Test cricket as Bairstow had done.

“It’s not supposed to be possible, but it certainly was,” he said. “He had the courage to do it. It’s a bit against the grain of what we’ve seen in Test cricket, although not with Baz [McCullum] in Test Cricket.’

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