Ashes 2013-14: Ben Stokes ‘up for the fray’ whatever it may take

 

There was, for the first time in his Test career and perhaps his life, a moment’s hesitation in Ben Stokes. He had come off the field after taking 6 for 99 in his fourth Test match and was asked if he relished the fray.

“What’s ‘the fray’ mean, mate? Don’t use those big words with me,” he said, being perfectly smart enough to know where this might lead. But was he up for it? “Yeah, I’m up for it, there you go,” he said.

Indeed he was and indeed he is. Stokes, the young cricketer of the year, is by the length of Mitchell Johnson’s moustache (Johnson was treading on it as he ran to the wicket yesterday) the best thing to have happened to England in this series.

After scoring his maiden hundred in his second Test he took his maiden five-wicket haul in his fourth. Among all-rounders of recent vintage, Ian Botham took five wickets in his first Test innings and scored a hundred in his fourth, Andrew Flintoff took until his 13th and 32nd respectively. Stokes has noticed the difference in class.

“The standard that you have to play to with both bat and ball,” he said. “Any sort of width gets punished. The standard of bad balls that you don’t receive off the bowlers is another thing I’ve noticed. With a guy bowling 150 clicks at your head you don’t get that much in county cricket. Forty thousand people as well. The atmosphere gives you an uplift.”

There are those who would be intimidated – which is the difference often between those who make it and those who do not – but Stokes not only refuses to take a step backward, he is quite willing to take some forward. He bristles as though he likes it all, as though he relishes the fray.

England might have felt slightly miffed about Brad Haddin’s continual success in this series, buttressed as it has been by a share of good fortune. But Stokes did not make the mistake of whingeing about it.

“Haddin has played well all series and has played his natural game every innings so far,” he said. “When a guy is playing like that against you, you have to hold up your hands. It is just the way he comes out and plays his natural game. Quite a lot has gone his way but fair play to him.”

Stokes still thinks of himself as a batsman who bowls and, if pushed, would be happier with his Test hundred than his six wickets. He seems to know exactly what this game is about and how harsh a mistress it can be. He seems ready for that too, now that people are calling him the next this and the next that.

“If that is what people are saying then thanks,” he said. “It is just feet on the floor. The success I have had so far can easily turn around and people will be writing me off.”

Not yet, not even in the meanest streets.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee