Cricket-England’s Stokes: ‘All we’re thinking about is winning 3-2’

By Hugh Lawson

LONDON (Reuters) – England captain Ben Stokes said there would be no change in his team’s approach to the Ashes despite losing the second test by 43 runs against Australia at Lord’s on Sunday and going 2-0 down in the five-test series.

Stokes, who put on a stunning batting display in his side’s unsuccessful run chase, and England coach Brendan McCullum have come under fire for sticking to their freewheeling, no-holds-barred approach against the world test champions, who now need only a draw to retain the Ashes urn.

“All we’re thinking about is winning the series 3-2,” Stokes told reporters after scoring a swashbuckling 155.

He suggested that England’s perilous situation plays into their hands in view of the swashbuckling way they have been playing the game since McCullum took over in May 2022.

“It’s very exciting to know that the way in which we are playing our cricket actually couldn’t be more perfect for the situation we find ourselves in – we have to win these three games to get this urn back,” he said.

“We are a team who are obviously willing to put ourselves out there and do things against the narrative. So now these next three games are an even better opportunity for us than we’ve ever found ourselves in before.”

Stokes said the team’s approach boiled down to making every player feel they have the freedom to play their own game, and then to execute that as best they can.

“What we’ve managed to do in the dressing room is give every individual clarity in what they want to do. You’ve got the backing of the whole dressing room to go out there with something in your head that you feel is the best way to take the game on at that given time,” he said.

“I just tell the lads ‘Let’s try to make our execution better'”.

Having said before that the team will not be “results-driven”, he insisted England would be sticking to their mindset.

“We’ll keep on giving every player the best chance to be completely clear in their head about what they want to go out and do,” he said.

(Reporting by Hugh Lawson; Editing by Ken Ferris)