Write England off at your peril, says Stokes after India series defeat

India clinched the series in the fourth match and handed Stokes his first Test series defeat as captain since becoming a leader in the five-day format in 2022.

By:
Eastern Eye

ENGLAND captain Ben Stokes warned critics last Saturday (9) against any premature eulogies for his team, saying he will use the team’s 4-1 Test drubbing in India as inspiration for improvement.

The visitors won the opener but lost the next four, including a final match thrashing by an innings and 64 runs inside three days in the Himalayan hill town of Dharamsala.

“I don’t give too much away as the series is going on but I’m always man enough to say we got beaten by the better team,” Stokes told reporters after the match. “I have done a lot of India tours now. I am obviously disappointed with my performance for the team, but write this team off, write me off at your own peril.”

India clinched the series in the fourth match and handed Stokes his first Test series defeat as captain since becoming a leader in the five-day format in 2022.

The England skipper and coach Brendon McCullum are known for devising an attacking brand of play dubbed “Bazball”, in reference to the New Zealand player’s nickname. The brand of cricket won them the opener by 28 runs, but came under fire in the next three defeats for its use on turning Indian pitches and resulting in regular batting flops.

“It’s the first time, particularly these last four games, that this team has been dominated pretty much the whole time,” said Stokes.

“We will use this as inspiration to become a better team. We will use it as inspiration to become better players. That is the mentality we have.”

Talking about Bazball, he added, “In my opinion, it’s wanting to be a better player. In the face of defeat and failure, Bazball will hopefully inspire people to become better players.”

Zak Crawley was England’s best batsman with 407 runs while fellow opener Ben Duckett (153 in third Test), former captain Joe Root (122 not out in fourth Test) and Ollie Pope (196 in the opener) all had their moments in the series.

Rookie spinners Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir made their mark with 39 wickets between them to lead an inexperienced spin attack following an injury to senior bowler Jack Leach in the opener.

“Looking at the positives we can take away from this series are Zak and Ben Duckett showing that consistency they did at the top of the order for us over the summer,” Stokes said. “Shoaib Bashir and Tom Hartley have been outstanding.”

Stokes managed just 199 runs with the bat but came back with a moment of brilliance. He struck first ball on his return to bowling since his knee surgery last year, cleaning up his Indian counterpart Rohit Sharma on day two of the final Test.

“It was bizarre. It’s been nine months since I bowled a ball competitively – bowling in the nets all tour… I can’t believe I’ve just done that,” he said.

“That’s why you didn’t see too much emotion. But I just love being back in the game with ball in hand. I know how much that helps the team. I will go back and work even harder to make sure in the summer I’ll play a full role as an all-rounder.”