England skipper Ben Stokes ‘pretty emotional’ after receiving 100th Test cap

By Sports Desk February 15, 2024

Ben Stokes has had an air of indifference at playing in his 100th Test but the England captain was “pretty emotional” at receiving his cap in a behind-closed-doors presentation.

England players typically hold a team huddle on the outfield before play to commemorate landmark appearances but Stokes this week described joining the 100 Test club as “just a number”.

In keeping with Stokes’ philosophy about personal milestones, his cap presentation took place in England’s dressing room before the opening day of the third Test against India in Rajkot got under way.

England assistant Paul Collingwood was tight-lipped about what he said to Stokes before handing over the cap but thought his former Durham team-mate was touched by the sentiments expressed.

“It was a real honour to be asked to present the cap in the first place,” Collingwood said.

“I’ve known Ben since he’s been a young whipper-snapper at Durham. It was great just to say a few nice words.

“It was just to really applaud what he’s achieved in his career so far, it’s certainly not coming to an end – hopefully he’s got another 100 Test caps in him.

“From the team’s point of view, it was to thank him for what he’s done and just the way he pushes the boundaries all the time and fills every player and member of coaching staff with confidence.

“It’s a great moment for him, I’m sure he’ll not be overly bothered about 100 Test caps but you could see once I was speaking he was pretty emotional to receive that cap.”

With the series level at 1-1 and resuming after a 10-day break, England made a terrific start as the recalled Mark Wood found the edges of Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill to leave India on 33 for three.

Some early morning moisture aided England’s bowlers but as sun beat down on the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, the pitch flattened out and Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja capitalised.

Rohit made 131 after being given a reprieve on 27 when Joe Root shelled a tough chance, which would have left India on 47 for four, while Jadeja contributed a princely 110 not out on his return from a hamstring injury at his home ground as India finished an engrossing day on 326 for five.

Wood eventually got reward for his short-ball plan by snaring Rohit to finish with three for 69 while he ran out Sarfaraz Khan with a fantastic direct hit from mid-on.

“Woody has good skill with the new ball, he can nip that around and swing it,” Collingwood said.

“But on flat pitches, you need something, be it a leg-spinner who can turn it both ways, or extreme pace.

“They are usually things that break those partnerships and give you an edge. You want a point of difference on these types of pitches.

“I thought we pushed hard all day and we threw everything at them. We all realise that however many runs India get, we’re going to go out there pretty positively with the bat.

“If we have to chase runs on this pitch, it’s a very fast outfield and we’re good at chasing.”

While Root’s drop of Rohit was a sliding doors moment, England might also have snared both centurions had they reviewed lbw decisions given not out on the field, with Rohit on 87 and Jadeja on 93.

“It can be frustrating at times, but you have to crack on and try to create more chances,” Collingwood added.

Jadeja was shuffled up one place to number five to spare debutant Sarfaraz Khan a baptism of fire following India’s top-order wobble.

By the time Sarfaraz made his entrance, India were on a healthier 237 for four after a mammoth 204-run union between their two old stagers.

Sarfaraz poured salt into England’s wounds by taking down the tourists’ spinners and contributing 62 off 66 balls before being left high and dry by Jadeja, who turned down the single that would have brought up his 100.

Sarfaraz was well short of getting back in his crease and Jadeja reached his century from the next ball although his customary sword-swishing celebration was not as vigorous as usual.

“We had a little bit of miscommunication and that happens, it is no big deal,” Sarfaraz said, absolving his team-mate of any blame.

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