Golden ticket no substitute for match-winning displays, says Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes' new-found Indian Premier League riches will never rival the treasured feeling he gets from being a match-winner.
Stokes scooped the golden ticket at last week’s IPL auction, when he landed the tournament’s overseas record £1.7m deal with Rising Pune Supergiants.
The charismatic all-rounder reported back for England duty almost immediately, flying to the Caribbean to take on West Indies in a three-match one-day international series which will begin at Antigua’s Sir Vivian Richards Stadium tomorrow.
England were heartened, as they continued preparations for that opening fixture, by the favourable outcome of scans on Jake Ball’s right knee – and the seamer was set to take part in training over the next two days, and remain in contention for selection.
Stokes, meanwhile, is hoping to park the chat about his IPL pot and get back to letting bat and ball do his talking.
Asked inevitably about his ‘windfall’, he said: “I’ve found it very tough to talk about.
“It’s one of those things that makes me a little bit awkward. I’m not sure why.”
His England team-mates have provided some good-natured ribbing, about who pays the meal bill for example – a reaction which has generally helped put him at ease.
“The group we have, it’s funny to be around them – because it’s just literally take the mickey out of everyone,” he added.
“Everyone gets brought back down to earth very quickly ... it’s just the way we operate, which is why it’s such a good team environment to be in.”
There will nonetheless be a new pressure, which the 25-year-old hopes he can handle.
“I’m going to be expected by a lot more people (to win games).
“In terms of personal expectation and wanting to do well, that would have been there if I went for my base price (of £180,000).
“No matter what, the pride you take is still from how you perform on the pitch – match-winning performances are the best feeling you can get.”
Eoin Morgan’s England have every right to be confident about their prospects here, against opponents who have failed to qualify for this summer’s Champions Trophy.
Stokes’ advice is to respect capable opposition.
He said: “Obviously they’re an inexperienced team, but we can’t be going into this game thinking it’s just going to be a walk in the park because we know how talented the West Indies are.
“We can’t be taking this team lightly at all – if we do that, then it’s dangerous territory for us.”