Ben Stokes under fire as England batting collapse

Ben Stokes has come under fire after throwing his wicket away in England’s first innings against India. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Ben Stokes has been heavily criticized for three questionable decisions at the crease which several former England big names have pointed to as evidence of a flawed new game plan.

England trail India by 257 in the stumps on day threeafter a disastrous first-run collapse gave the tourists a dominant position in the first test at Edgbaston.

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Few England batters offered much resistance except Johnny Bairstow’s impressive century, but his efforts weren’t enough to prevent India from taking the upper hand after the opening innings.

Stokes joined Bairstow in the crease with England in serious trouble at 5/83, but the pair managed to salvage some innings respectability at 5/149, before the captain inexplicably decided it was time to throw in caution in the wind.

He was lucky after charging Mohammed Shami down the field, with Shardul Thakur dropping an easy chance from the top rim.

Three overs later, Stokes charged downfield again, this time against Thakur, but was again dropped after giving Jasprit Bumrah a tricky chance halfway through.

He tried the same again on the next ball, again missing his shot, but this time Bumrah got it right, sending Stokes his way and seriously hampering England’s chances of tying the game before the game. second run.

His cerebral swoon was linked to an overall more aggressive style under new head coach Brendon McCullum, nicknamed ‘Bazball’, who scored an incredible 3-0 win over New Zealand last month.

As McCullum and Stokes greeted each other with a smile in the sheds, former England batsman Kevin Pietersen said it was a weird way to approach an innings.

“He’s a reckless hitter, it’s not defending your wicket, it’s not protecting what we call the value of your wicket as a batter,” Pietersen said. sky sports.

“Hundreds of match tests are valuable commodities, and when you get a hundred match tests it means a lot because of the stress, tension, patience and discipline that goes with it.

“I was looking at Stokes there and thinking ‘he’s the captain, he’s the leader’. He talks about this new brand of cricket: Slog, Thakur drops it. Slog, straight halfway, drops it fall in. Slog again, out.

“That’s three Ben Stokes brainfades in 10 minutes. And that’s where I think his test box devaluation is something I’m watching that may not be a good thing.

England in Test trouble against India after first leg disaster

Pietersen was not alone in his reservations, with former Test captain Nasser Hussein and England striker Mark Butcher also critical of Stokes’ decision-making.

Hussein said the determination to follow new coach McCullum’s instructions and set an example for his teammates was affecting his own game – showing in the past that patience was a key aspect of his game.

“It takes something away from Stokes the batter because he’s one of the smartest batsmen I’ve seen in recent years, going back to 2019 and the Headingley Test and the World Cup final, because that he thinks through situations,” Hussain wrote for the Daily mail.

“Now he’s in charge, he doesn’t want to ask a player to do something he doesn’t want to do himself and sometimes this summer he took to the pitch when he didn’t have one. need. There will come a time when he will have to adapt a little.

Ben Stokes winces in pain after being hit by a delivery against India.

Ben Stokes threw caution to the wind against India and lost his first innings wicket cheaply as a result. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Butcher said England had to learn when it was time to take more risks – pointing out that with Stokes looking comfortable and the Bairstow in good form en route to a century, the team were now in an unnecessarily position hard.

“My doubts about that are that Ben Stokes is a guy who can pick the right ball to go after, he can go out there and hold the pressure, which is a lot of what Test cricket is all about.

“There will always be times when you just have to hold the line for a while, hold and hold, ‘and now we come back to it’. Force them to make a change.

“Ben probably could have cut the two balls he threw in the air. He’s not a ham-and-egg, he’s not a guy who doesn’t have the skills to do it, so that’s, I guess, the bummer.

“They’re going to have to find the line between being hyper-aggressive and pushing the game forward and sometimes taking a small step back, being smart and then stacking up again.”

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