Ben Stokes’ steady rise in international cricket has been one of the major reasons behind England regrouping after the 2015 ICC World Cup, where they made their exit from the group stages.
In the last season, English have won all ODI series, except the one in India. They also went on to finish runners-up in the 2016 ICC World T20. And Stokes has emerged as one of their top players in this revival.
Stokes too, like his team, went through a downhill journey only to emerge stronger. His lowest point came when he had to sit out of the 2014 World T20, after he suffered a wrist injury. The more shocking part was that he got injured as he punched a metal locker in the changing room which led to his ouster.
The 25-year-old Stokes took his time to regain his place in the England team and is now their most reliable all-rounder.
“Once you are passionate about something, it might come out in a wrong way. It (locker room incident) was an episode of stupidity. I learnt from it. I don’t punch in the locker room anymore. I realised that if I want to pursue what I love, I have to choose the right way,” Stokes told a select media gathering on Thursday.
Stokes is not the only one who has had to deal with anger issues. Australia captain Steve Smith, who was also present, said he is still getting used to keeping his emotions in check.
“I am still trying and working on that. Being a captain is a difficult task. All the cameras are on you and you are being noticed. It’s not easy to perform with all the attention,” said Smith, who was involved in an early altercation with India captain Virat Kohli during the recently-concluded India-Australia series.
Both Smith and Stokes are part of the Rising Pune Supergiant team that is very close to sealing a playoff berth in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017.
“We are on a winning run and have the chance to finish in the top two. The great thing is that we are not dependant on one or two guys. Majority of our players have performed,” Smith, the RPS captain, said.
“The youngsters in our team have contributed in a big way. Rahul Tripathi has done very well with the bat while Jaydev Unadkat has bowled some very good spells.”
Champions Trophy – the bigger battle
Both Stokes and Smith are important members of the England and Australia teams respectively that will play in the ICC Champions Trophy.
Smith feels the IPL has come at a good time for him. “Playing in IPL is great ahead of the Champions Trophy. It is always good to play white ball cricket before such a big tournament. Though the format is different, we are playing with world-class players,” the Australia captain said.