'One doesn't know what transpired': Karim urges England to not have 'too many expectations' from comeback man Ben Stokes
The Ashes: Former India player Saba Karim, while talking about Ben Stokes' comeback following a long break, opined that the England team management needs to deal with things with utmost care and sensitivity.
England's star all-rounder Ben Stokes is set to make his comeback in the upcoming Ashes Tour against Australia Down Under after a hiatus of nearly five months. Following a personal tragedy and a finger injury sustained during the first phase of IPL 2021, Stokes had decided to take a break from the game to focus on his mental and physical health. But he is ready to get back to action now and former India cricketer Saba Karim believes that the team management will have to go about things with great caution and sensitivity.
Left-handed batter Stokes last played an international game in July 2021 and his previous Test match dates back to March earlier this year. Without a shred of a doubt, he continues to remain one of the best all-format all-rounders in the world who has done the heavy lifting for his side on numerous occasions. Having said that, and by former wicketkeeper Karim's admission, it is not easy for a player to hit the top gear immediately after such a long break.
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Hence, when the Hindustan Times posed a question on England should go about Stokes' smooth reintegration into the team, during a press call organized by Sony Sports, Saba Karim listed a few ideas.
"The way forward for the England set-up is to have a very open and transparent communication system with Ben Stokes. [They need to] just to keep track of how he's feeling, how he's coping with this pressure once again, and what kind of space he is in mentally. They should not have too many expectations from Ben Stokes because one doesn't know what transpired in the past that he had to take time off from the game and work on his mental health.
"They need to be extremely sensitive towards this kind of a comeback from Ben Stokes because he remains such an instrumental and influential figure in the English dressing room. And there's a tendency to expect the same kind of performance from someone like Ben Stokes, something he has produced in the past. It may not be so easy but if Ben Stokes and the English team management work together in tandem, then I am one can see the best possible outcome for the English team," explained Karim.
Earlier on Friday morning, Cricket Australia, amid the Tim Paine sexting scandal, named Pat Cummins as the new captain of the Test side and former captain Steve Smith as his deputy. Karim commented that he was the obvious choice and that the board has long-term goals in mind with Cummins at the helm.
"Yes (he was my first choice as well) because he was the vice-captain. I think he has been touted very highly from the Australian media to the Australian selectors and the former cricketers. He carries with him some stellar performances for the Australian side. I think that's the reason why they have named him Cummins as the captain. I am sure they have a long-term future for him in mind. They want to build a side around him as the captain. This bodes really well for Australian cricket," concluded Karim.
(Sony Pictures Sports Network India will broadcast the Ashes 2021 from December 8. The highly anticipated series will be telecast live on Sony Six (English), Sony Ten 3 (Hindi), and Sony Ten 4 (Tamil and Telugu) channels and live-streamed on its on-demand OTT platform SonyLIV.)