ODI series: Ben Stokes hoping to become Englnad's go-to man following match-winning performance against Australia
Stokes hit a career-best 70 before taking four wicket for 38 runs with the ball
Saturday 25 January 2014
Ben Stokes wants to be England's man for a crisis after his all-round performance inspired a first victory over Australia this winter.
England ended their nine-game losing run against Australia - dating back to the home ODI series in September - thanks largely to a man-of-the-match performance from Stokes in the fourth one-day international in Perth.
The 22-year-old hit a career-best 70, after being elevated to three, before grabbing four for 38 with the ball to secure a welcome 57-run win.
Stokes' display was all the more laudable after he had been targeted by Australia in the dramatic one-wicket defeat in Brisbane a week ago.
James Faulkner launched Stokes for five sixes in the final 10 overs as he engineered an unlikely comeback.
But rather than be cowed by the experience the Durham man revealed his desire to put matters right in Perth, which led him to ask skipper Alastair Cook to bowl in the late overs again.
Cook was rewarded for backing his young team-mate as Stokes grabbed three late wickets - including Faulkner - to secure a relieving success.
Stokes said: "I think he (Cook) knows that I want to do that. We chatted about it and I said: 'Yeah, I want to bowl at the end'.
"I've done that role for Durham in the one-day stuff over the last few years. It's not like I'm not used to it.
"This time I've got wickets, last time I did that it didn't go so well. It can go one way or the other.
"I always want to be involved in (the key moments). I want to try and influence the result for whatever team I'm playing for."
Stokes admitted he had felt a sense of revenge as he put the finishing touches on Australia's first defeat of the winter.
"I think so. It didn't go well the last time I got the ball chucked to me," he said.
"I really wanted to change the way that went and made sure we got over the line."
Stokes' emotions were obvious when he dismissed Faulkner, exchanging a few words with his Australia counterpart as he left the crease.
Umpire Kumar Dharmasena was moved to step in and have a word with Stokes afterwards, but it appears that was the end of the matter.
"It was nothing worse than I've been getting all one-day series," he said.
That competitive spirit has been a refreshing attitude following a tour in which England have too often subsided to Australia's aggressive approach.
Stokes has been one of the obvious success stories of a difficult winter after first serving notice of his willing attitude with a fighting century in the third Test at the WACA Ground.
He admits it has been a steep learning curve in three months Down Under and, while dismissing suggestions he was now a permanent fixture in England's planning, he knows important strides have been made personally.
"I'm always competitive and I'm always up for the fight," he said.
"Every time I go out there it is a new experience.
"This is the first time I've come up against anything like that before. I will take a lot away from this tour.
"I don't think I've nailed my position.
"Going forward I've just got to put some consistent efforts in and make sure I keep my place in the team.
"I've got that opportunity and I hope I get a few more down the line. I've just got to keep trying to put in good performances."
He hopes also that his move up the order in this series is not a short-lived experiment.
"I've really enjoyed the opportunity to bat at three," he said.
"It is nice being out there and trying to bat for as long as I can. It gives you added experience."
The move to shift Stokes up the order points to England's determination, at least, to learn ahead of next year's World Cup, which will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
Top of that list is adopting a 'no-fear approach' which was evident in Perth as England swept to 316 for eight - their second-highest score on Australian soil.
Stokes believes that attitude must be central to any further success, starting again at the Adelaide Oval for the series finale on Sunday.
"I think it is, we've been trying to play like that it just hasn't been working," he said.
"Playing with no fear is probably the best way to go about it.
"If you've got any doubts in your mind you are more than likely going to get out."
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