England v Pakistan: Restless ben Stokes eager to make impact with ball in hand
After sharing the spoils in the Test series this summer England appear to be well ahead in the 50-over format, going 2-0 up with three to play in the Royal London series after straightforward victories at the Ageas Bowl and, on Saturday, Lord’s.
And while Pakistan’s options appear to be diminishing, opener Mohammad Hafeez having withdrawn from the squad, the hosts can look forward to adding another string to their bow for the final three games.
Stokes has been playing as a specialist batsman thus far due to a calf problem but is hoping rejoin the pace attack at Trent Bridge tomorrow.
“The plan from the start was to be fit and ready to bowl by the third ODI and by the way things are going it is looking likely I will be an option for Eoin in Nottingham if needed,” he said.
“I have done all the preparation to get myself fit and then put my hand up to say that I am ready to bowl.
“I’ve bowled for about 15 minutes flat out and all the build-up stuff I needed to do has been done, so if I am needed, hopefully Eoin will ask.”
Stokes is a cricketer who thrives on being centre stage, be it batting, bowling or upholding his reputation as the side’s best fielder.
And while he admits having a reduced workload has been frustrating, the Durham man has been trying to make it up to his team-mates by giving more in the remaining facets of the game.
“It’s so boring,” he said of being denied the ball.
“Honestly, it makes the fielding innings seem a lot longer because if you bowl 10 overs it kind of takes 20 overs out of the game for you.
“But I pride myself on my fielding as well and one thing that keeps me switched on the whole time is that I don’t want to give away any runs.
“I want to try and stop as many as possible – and applying myself to that has got me through the fact I am not bowling.
“But it’s nice to get that confidence from your captain and coach saying ‘we want you to play as a specialist batsman’ – so I have wanted to make sure I make some runs in these first two matches.
“I think that knowing I wasn’t going to bowl in these first two games I have worked longer on my batting in the build-up days in training. It’s been quite nice to solely concentrate on the batting side in these first two.”
England fans would be forgiven for thinking that a rare series whitewash could be on the cards for Eoin Morgan’s side in the coming week.
They seem to have the clear upper hand over a Pakistan side who look timid with bat in hand and inconsistent with the ball, leading to some stern criticism from their own head coach Mickey Arthur.
But Stokes insisted there was no talk of 5-0 in the home dressing room.
“We could spill into dangerous territory if we start to think too far ahead,” he cautioned. “We have gone 2-0 up in the series because we’ve been playing the better cricket. If we were to think we have won it already and slip up on what we have been doing that could be the worst thing to do.”