Ben Stokes of England celebrates hitting the winning runs to win the 3rd Specsavers Ashes Test match between England and Australia 1920x1080

‘I am back in the 2019, 2020 space’: Ben Stokes targets another red-hot summer

England news

By Martin Pegan

Hit For Six!

Ben Stokes is confident he can return to the form and fitness that led to a summer of heroics with England in 2019 ahead of a Test against Ireland and Ashes series that will follow.

Lightning could be about to strike twice, according to Ben Stokes, as the England skipper prepares for a first Ashes series on home soil since 2019.

Stokes was arguably at the peak of his powers the last time Australia toured for a Test series, as the all-rounder played a starring role in England’s ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup triumph then stayed in the spotlight with match-winning efforts against their traditional rivals.

The 31-year-old has now taken on a new leading role over the past year as captain of a revitalised outfit that has won 10 of their past 12 Tests all while playing an electrifying brand of red-ball cricket.

Stokes battled a knee injury and other concerns through the latter half of that hot streak which limited his ability to bowl, but the all-rounder is confident he can now contribute with both bat and ball to match his previous highs.

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“I’ve got myself into a position where I’m not able to look back and regret, or say I have not given myself the best opportunity to play a full role with the ball this summer,” Stokes said.

“I have got myself into a place where I sort of feel like I am back in the 2019, 2020 space in terms of my own body and fitness.

“I have definitely given myself the best opportunity, but the mind and the body are different things. But I’ve given myself the best chance.”

England kick off an action-packed summer with a one-off four-day Test against Ireland at Lord’s, with five Tests against Australia to follow shortly after the visitors complete their ICC World Test Championship Final campaign.

Josh Tongue is set to make a Test debut against Ireland, with James Anderson, Ollie Robinson and Mark Wood all returning to fitness and Jofra Archer again sidelined.

With injury clouds already hanging over several pacers and a heavy workload still to come, England are sure to rotate through their attack this summer but Stokes expects to be a regular across the six Tests.

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“Unless I can’t walk, I’ll be on the field,” Stokes said.

Stokes was just as firm that he would have the mindset each time he steps out that he is playing as an all-rounder.

The Ashes series comes less than 18 months after Australia thumped England 4-0 but Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum have revolutionised their approach to great success.

While their form over the past year came when England was already out of genuine contention for a spot in the WTC Final at The Oval, their talisman intends to play in the same manner even when the stakes rise with the Ashes on the line.

“I sort of find myself answering the same question really about ‘is this going to continue?’ But I think it’s pretty clear that we have found a way in which we’ve been able to get the best out of ourselves as individuals and as a team,” Stokes said. 

“That’s how we are always going to look to play because we’ve seen success in it. 

“It’s not always going to work, because you win games and you lose games, but what we have been able to do is find a formula that really works for the individuals that we have in this dressing room at the moment. That won’t change because of the opposition.”


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