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NASSER HUSSAIN: Stokes is at the top of his game and can use innings as a template to raise the average

NASSER HUSSAIN: Ben Stokes is at the top of his game and can use innings as a template to raise his average to where it should be in the mid-40s

  • Ben Stokes is a much better batsman than when trying to invent blows
  • There was a surprise when I said that he is the best batsman on the English side
  • He can’t be mistaken, but boredom is when he’s trying to get inventive
  • But he can barely play a shot if he crosses the hundred line
  • Don’t forget the contribution from Dom Sibley, who did a lot of the initial hard work

This is the way Ben Stokes should always punch. It’s what I meant when I said he doesn’t have to invent strokes like he did in the first test because he’s so much better than that.

There were some raised eyebrows when I said here for this test that Stokes is the best batsman in this English side. That’s not to say Joe Root is disrespectful. I’m a big fan, but he struggles a bit with his movement at the crease.

Stokes, on the other hand, is at the top of his game and if he uses these innings as his template that progresses, his mean will soon be where it should be for a man of his fortune – mid-1940s.

Ben Stokes is at the top of his game after scoring his 10th Test century at Old Trafford

Ben Stokes is at the top of his game after scoring his 10th Test century at Old Trafford

There were some raised eyebrows when I said that Stokes is the best batsman in this English side

There were some raised eyebrows when I said that Stokes is the best batsman in this English side

There were some raised eyebrows when I said that Stokes is the best batsman in this English side

We’ve shown some Hawk-Eye illustrations on TV that whenever Jason Holder kept the ball out of Stokes’ punch for a day and a half to work on his patience here, he always kept his discipline and application. It meant that he moved on to the slowest century of his test career.

It’s never an ego thing with Stokes. Opponents cannot try to trick him into making him think “you can’t look at me there.” Instead, it’s more of a boredom when Ben tries to get inventive, as he did too early in both Ageas Bowl turns.

Stokes wants to entertain, but he must understand that he is better than playing off-stump, trying to hit a leg and get himself out. He put that shot out of here, at least until he got to three digits, and said to Jason Holder and the West Indies, “I’ll be boring for a while and keep the good balls out, but eventually I’ll cash in.”

Opponents can't mistake him, but it's more boredom when Ben becomes inventive

Opponents can't mistake him, but it's more boredom when Ben becomes inventive

Opponents can’t mistake him, but it’s more boredom when Ben becomes inventive

Once he’s a hundred and England wants to increase the score, like here, Stokes can do whatever he wants. He can shuffle back and forth over the crease and run onto the field because in recent years he has shown that when he wants to go through the gears, he has the brains to do it.

There is hardly any chance he does not have, and therefore he should never give the opposition an easy way out. Stokes has been showing for a number of years that he is good enough to join this English team alone as a batsman.

And that’s the mentality he must have: forget about all the other things he contributes with the ball and in the field when he goes to the fold and that attitude will run him up to an average of 45 and beyond.

The only disappointment was that there was no full house to support Stokes when he finally left.

There is hardly any chance he doesn't have and why he shouldn't give bowlers an easy way out

There is hardly any chance he doesn't have and why he shouldn't give bowlers an easy way out

There is hardly any chance he doesn’t have and why he shouldn’t give bowlers an easy way out

Let’s not forget Dom Sibley’s contribution to that 260 partnership. It would have been easy to say “get started” to him, but the reason Stokes was able to hit like he did after lunch was because Sibley had done the hard work.

That’s another reason why these turns should be a template for England. They had reached less than 400 in the first innings of a 16-test run by Friday, which is because batting is hard work in this country.

You need your openers to do the hard graft and that’s what Sibley did. The fact that he struggled to move through the gears in Stokes’ style shouldn’t take away from a monumental effort.

Let's not forget the contribution of Dom Sibley, who did a lot of the hard work

Let's not forget the contribution of Dom Sibley, who did a lot of the hard work

Let’s not forget the contribution of Dom Sibley, who did a lot of the hard work

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