Virat has earned the right to never be written off: Stokes

Nov 08, 2022 08:58 PM IST

The England allrounder knows exactly why Kohli and India should never be taken lightly

England’s crisis man for all formats knows a thing or two about not performing, or slipping into the mental abyss of the game. So when he was asked about Virat Kohli’s lack of a statistical achievement—a hundred—for nearly three years, Ben Stokes said: “Virat could have four unbelievable years like he had and then have a not-so-loud couple of months,” he said, “and then for some reason, players like that will get written off. I’ve got no idea why. I think he’s earned the right to never be written off.

Ben Stokes: Virat Kohli(file photo)
Ben Stokes: Virat Kohli(file photo)

“You don’t produce the numbers and the innings he does over all three formats... as players and people who play against him a lot, you never take anything he’s done in the game before into the game he’s got here.”

England play India here in two days after a turbulent group phase that saw them crashing to defeat against Ireland. Stokes himself was averaging 9.8 in six innings since returning to England’s T20 set-up but against Sri Lanka—when the team needed him most—Stokes fashioned a calm, collected 42 off 36 balls to steer the team in a tricky chase to a four-wicket victory. “I just knew what I had to do,” Stokes said. “I assessed pretty early that I was going to try my hardest to be there at the end. The situation itself wasn’t too much of an ask, it was basically just a run a ball from the whole time I went in, but the wicket was slowing up and getting a bit worse as we spent more time on it, so I just assessed that I’ll stay in there and be there at the end.”

Stokes the rescuer may again be summoned, a role he has gotten used to by now. “This is the crunch time in the tournament, Thursday’s all about which team turns up and can perform at their best,” Stokes said. Adelaide comes with its warmer climate, slightly different pitch and shorter square boundaries. Stokes referred to that while elaborating on the need to adapt. “We come here to Adelaide, which is a very different dimension to the other grounds we’ve played on. We’ve been playing on big square boundaries and looking to try to get the batters to hit them, whereas obviously, here we’re probably going to look to change our tactics around that.”

England are also alive to the fact that Suryakumar Yadav is probably in the best form of his life. “He has obviously come in and set the world alight,” said Stokes. “He is a fantastic player and plays some shots where you sort of just scratch the head sometimes. He is in great form, but hopefully, we can try and shut him down and not allow him to get on one of his rampages.”

England’s white-ball revolution has given them an ODI World Cup but they are yet to win a trophy in the format that matters the most. England command some of the biggest overseas signings in the IPL apart from their own The Hundred but they are yet to win the T20 World Cup after 2010. Stokes hopes to correct that. “I hope so,” he said, “because we have got two more games to hopefully be part of them and hopefully lift the trophy in the end. But we know we need to get this game done on Thursday, against a very strong Indian team which no one will ever take lightly because of the team they are and the players that they have in their squad.”

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    Somshuvra Laha is a sports journalist with over 11 years' experience writing on cricket, football and other sports. He has covered the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, the 2016 ICC World Twenty20, cricket tours of South Africa, West Indies and Bangladesh and the 2010 Commonwealth Games for Hindustan Times.

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