Ashes 2013-14: Ian Bell points to Ben Stokes as the sole shining light

England look for the positives as the Ashes slip out of their grasp

Waca

In the darkest hour, England might, just might, have found a glimmer of light. Ben Stokes came on this tour, it was said, to learn the rudiments of Test cricket, to be around the dressing room.

He will leave it as the all-rounder of the present and the future, a future that could extend for a decade. There is much yet to do but what raw material there is to work with.

Stokes stood up to be counted on the fourth day when England were faced with a ludicrously nominal 504 to win and made 72 cleanly struck runs to keep Australia’s finest at bay. He came in after Kevin Pietersen and plonked a lofted drive down long on’s throat when England were trying to save the match, the series and the Ashes.

Stokes had already shown his willingness for the fray when bowling. He runs in without complaint and with plenty of whizz. In both the matches he has played he has robustly declined to allow the Australians to bully him.

With Ian Bell for a few overs in the afternoon he was briefly commanding. Coming after the deprivations of the morning, when England were battered from pillar to post and back again, it was almost heartening.

“He has a massive future ahead of him,” said Bell. “The way he can play quick bowling and the way he can hit down the ground and his attitude with the ball. You never see him moan about anything, just gets on with it, runs in all day. He has shown what he can do with the bat and it’s exciting. Ben’s a quality player and impressed from the first net I saw him in at the Waca when we arrived. He took on all our quicks with the hook shot.”

But the advent of Stokes, if that is what this is, amounts for now to mere compensation amid considerable wreckage. England at least have offered no excuses for their abjectness and Bell was especially candid after his innings of 60.

“Australia have been fantastic in all departments,” he said. “They have batted better than us, bowled better, and fielded better. I don’t think we have shown anyone the cricket we can play. We know what quality there is in our dressing room but we just haven’t been able to get it out.”

Explanations aplenty will be sought in the next few days because the margin between the sides has grown. England began this series as short-priced favourites. “You can train as hard as you want but sometimes it just doesn’t happen,” Bell said. “It’s not through lack of desire, hunger and fight. We have spoken about it. We haven’t got big first-innings scores for a while now.”

On Pietersen’s dismissal, Bell added: “Kevin will be as frustrated as anyone. But I’d rather have him in my team than play against him. OK, he might do that every so often – but he wins you a game from nowhere as well.

“We’re doing everything we possibly can to get back to the good habits we used to have because we’re not going to win much Test cricket without it. We have got some new guys in the top six and it’s going to take a bit of time for them to settle but all we can do is keep going.” The only place England keep going at the moment is disaster.

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
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

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices