Stokes hails the energy and 'lift' McCullum has brought to England

By Sports Desk June 09, 2022

Ben Stokes hailed the energy and lift new England head coach Brendon McCullum has brought to the side as they prepare for the second Test against New Zealand.

McCullum and Stokes have been tasked with transforming England's fortunes in five-day cricket after captain Joe Root stepped down and coach Chris Silverwood was dismissed following a torrid run of one win in 17 Tests.

England got off to a great start to the new era at Lord's, Root scoring an unbeaten 115 to guide the hosts to a five-wicket victory over New Zealand to take a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series.

Stokes' side next head to Trent Bridge on Friday and can wrap up series victory over the world Test champions with a win in Nottingham.

While results will be undeniably at the forefront of McCullum's tenure, Stokes heaped praise on the New Zealand great for the feel-good environment he has instilled at England.

"It was fantastic," Stokes said of the win at Lord's as he addressed a news conference on Thursday.

"Obviously coming into the second game with a win under our belts straight away, with me captain and Brendon as coach, it's better than losing.

"One of the great things I've found about the last couple of weeks is genuinely just how much fun it has been.

"Sometimes the pressures of being an international cricketer, of delivering performances on a weekly basis, can get challenging.

"But we're playing for England and, when you play for your country, first and foremost the thing is to make sure you have as much fun as you can."

England will look to complete the series win before the third and final Test at Headingley, and Stokes believes the overhead conditions at Trent Bridge could serve his bowlers well.

"We're very evenly matched, especially in English conditions," he added. "Any overhead [cover] suits both our bowling attacks.

"We know that every time we go up against New Zealand it's never an easy ride. The game pretty much went to the wire until day four and we don't expect anything less."

Stokes also aimed to temper expectations surrounding Matthew Potts, who collected match figures of 7-68 on his Test debut, including the wicket of Black Caps captain Kane Williamson in both innings.

"The way that he started last week was obviously amazing," said Stokes. "It was pretty much a dream debut for him but I think the most important thing from a senior player point of view, and even for the coaches, is making sure that he keeps improving. And, if things don't go his way this week, it's not the be-all and end-all.

"But he's a fantastic competitor, that's why he got the opportunity to play.

"I obviously had to use him in a slightly different role because he normally takes the new ball for Durham, but he came on and I think he took a wicket three or four times in his first over when I asked him to do it. 

"I'll be looking to use him in the same way, to come in and affect the game and hopefully try and take a wicket when we need one."

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