Stokes 'absolutely loved' watching Pant: 'He would fit in our team'

By Sports Desk July 06, 2022

Ben Stokes intends to "create a legacy" with his new approach to Test cricket, and the captain of England's entertainers was further inspired by facing India's Rishabh Pant.

Since Stokes was named captain and Brendon McCullum head coach, England have won four consecutive Tests in thrilling fashion.

Across a 3-0 series whitewash of New Zealand and the delayed fifth Test against India, in which they secured a series draw, England chased down scores of more than 275 runs in every match.

Stokes' side were ultimately dominant against India, winning by seven wickets despite requiring 378 in the fourth innings – the highest target they have ever successfully pursued.

An unbroken partnership of 269 between Joe Root (142 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (114 no) completed the job, with the pair scaling new heights.

Root now has 11 Test centuries since the start of 2021 and continues to improve, "which I thought was impossible", Stokes said, referring to his former skipper as "a freak".

But the exciting 'Bazball' tactics of the past month have not been restricted to just those two players, with Stokes confirming Stuart Broad had been padded up on day four to go in as a "nighthawk", rather than a nightwatchman.

His aim? "Thirty off 10 or nought off one."

And Stokes also saw evidence of the future of Test cricket in the India batting line-up, as Pant scored 146 off 111 in the first innings. His wicket, the England captain said, was every bit as key as the Root-Bairstow partnership.

"He is someone who would fit very well in our team at the moment, Rishabh, the way that he goes about to play the game," Stokes said.

"That wicket was huge for us because we know what he can do. We know how he likes to play the game, and he could really have taken it away from us in real quick time."

Later, discussing the "legacy" he and McCullum hope to forge, Stokes again turned his focus to Pant's performance.

"Rishabh Pant's innings for India in the first innings was obviously against us, but I absolutely loved watching it," he said. "Being on the receiving end of something like that is just is incredible to watch.

"And it's great to see now that someone like Rishabh, who's obviously received his criticism over the years, is now getting applauded for that.

"The more we see players like that succeed in the way that they want to do, I think the negativity around that type of way of Test cricket will eventually die out, because it's so exciting to watch.

"Cricket is an entertainment business at the end of the day. Yes, you want results and stuff like that, but you want people to enjoy watching a spectacle.

"Test cricket has always been a spectacle, but it's about doing it differently now. So cheers, Rishabh."

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