“I couldn’t be any more proud of the team in what they did” – Ben Stokes
By SMCS - Aug 1, 2023 12:38 pm
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England Test captain Ben Stokes said that their performances in recent times, especially in the just-concluded Ashes, have managed to inspire the young generation to take up the sport. However, the nail-biting Ashes series came to an end on Sunday (July 31) with England managing to win the final Test to level the series 2-2. Even though England couldn’t manage to regain the urn, they put up a great show.

England Australia
England vs Australia

“I think that over the last seven weeks, in particular, we’ve managed to drag a new audience towards Test cricket,” Ben Stokes said after the Oval Test. “I think this series is genuinely what Test cricket needed. Two high-quality teams going at it toe-to-toe and the cricket has been something you couldn’t take your eyes off. Every session has been its own game. We’ve been in control, then Australia have been in control.”

He continued: “Everyone who’s turned up to the games and bought a ticket has really enjoyed their days of cricket. That’s all you can ask for as someone who pays money to come and watch an international sport. I really hope we’ve inspired a new generation. I look back to 2005 and what that series did for me as a young person, and I really hope there’s someone who’s the age I was then and says: ‘That’s what I want to be doing when I’m 21 or 22’.”

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However, Ben Stokes also admitted that the 2-2 scoreline showed how closely-fought the series was. Despite losing the first two Tests, England managed to bounce to win the third Test at Headingley and had the upper hand in the fourth Test at Old Trafford as well before rain played spoilsport as well.

“The series as a whole, I think 2-2 is genuinely a fair reflection of two very, very good teams going at it over a five-match series,” he said. “The cricket that’s been on show has been of the highest quality. Being 2-0 down is a very hard task to come back from, so being sat here able to say that we’ve levelled the series, knowing we had to win the last three. Coming here and playing the way we did, I couldn’t be any more proud of the team in what they did. We continued everything in the style of play we have over the last 15 months and it’s been everything I could have asked for minus getting the urn back.”

Pat Cummins
Pat Cummins has been leading the Australian Test team

On the other hand, Australia’s Test skipper Pat Cummins admitted that they ‘just missed’ what they wanted to achieve in the UK. Notably, Australia won the World Test Championship final against India but failed to win their first away Ashes series since 2001 as well.

“I think because we’ve had really good series’, especially at home and had a lot of success, the bar gets raised a little bit,” Cummins said. “So coming over here, retaining the Ashes feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. But In 2019 we were all pretty happy about a retained Ashes, so I don’t think we should lose sight of that.

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“It’s a huge achievement to come over here and get ourselves in many winning positions, the same as India [earlier this year] where we got ourselves into really good positions. We just missed what we were coming over here to achieve, but winning the World Test Championship and retaining the Ashes is a pretty successful tour. Everyone’s been amazing and just been talking about the cricket and how much they loved, and I know it’s the same back in Australia, big viewers and lots of people interested in cricket. How good is that? I was a bit young for 2005 but that series gets talked about a lot, and it feels like this series might be the same,” he further added.

“I think there were a couple of key partnerships batting-wise, that we felt like if we’d just put on another fifty runs that could have turned the tide in our favour. No doubt that one big innings they put in [at Manchester], you look at and could do some things a bit differently. But you never know if that would change anything, there’s too many unknowns. We got ourselves in some really good positions winning the first two games, but at Headingley and again this week (we were in) match-winning positions, but just didn’t quite capitalise. That happens, but we were out of it in Birmingham and found a way to win. Once we reflect on it we’ll be proud we retained it, so it’s been a wonderful tour but we turned up today hoping to get up and win 3-1,” he concluded.