Cricket

Pak vs Eng 2nd Test


Ben Stokes said he felt “very honoured and very privileged” to be leading England’s revival, after a 26-run win over Pakistan in Multan gave them the three-match series with a game to spare, and gave his side their first away Test series win under his captaincy.

England arrived in Pakistan at the end of last month for their first tour of the country in 17 years having won only two of their previous 24 Tests there, a figure they have matched in the last two weeks with victories in Rawalpindi and Multan. They have now won eight of their nine Tests since Stokes replaced Joe Root as captain in April.

“Coming to the subcontinent, it’s always a tough place to come and win [games of] cricket,” Stokes told Sky Sports. “We know what we’ve achieved this week. We know that it’s something that’s not unheard of, but very rare to do, especially as an English team.

“We’ll take it all in. We do understand how special an achievement this is this week, but as we keep saying, these series victories and these wins are part of a much bigger picture in what we’re trying to achieve at the moment.

“When I first got the job, I just wanted to come in and just try and change a few things up and get things going in a different direction. We were never focusing too much on results when I came into the job, and obviously the bigger picture and stuff like that, but sheesh, it’s been an amazing nine games to start off with.

“I just feel very honoured and very privileged to be a part of something like this and having everyone – not just the players but the backroom staff and everyone that works alongside us – being on the same path. It’s really, really good.”

England had to dig deep for their win in Multan, eventually bowling Pakistan out for 328 in the fourth innings – the highest team total of the match – to seal a tense win. Stokes said that they were deserving winners and felt in control for the majority of the game – the only exception being Saud Shakeel and Mohammad Nawaz’s 80-run partnership for the sixth wicket.

“Wherever we go in the world, we want people to enjoy the cricket, and the more we can do that – I keep saying it – the more Test cricket stops getting spoken about like it’s the losing form of cricket, because it’s definitely not”

Ben Stokes

“We were happy with the way we applied ourselves this whole week with the bat, with the ball and especially in the field,” Stokes said. “We’ve got a few lads under the weather again so to be out here and grafting out in the field, it’s been a great team collective yet again and the lads really deserve everything they got this week.

“This was another challenge presented to us, with the wicket being more in the slower bowlers’ favour than last week, but the way in which our batters went out and applied themselves in tricky conditions was fantastic and we kept the scoreboard ticking over in the way in which we want to, even though there were wickets falling.

“It showed yet again how versatile our bowling line-up is. Bowlers can bowl well in England with favourable conditions, but to come here and do what our team has done over the first two matches is seriously impressive on slow, docile wickets.”

Stokes has made a point of highlighting his desire for England’s ultra-attacking style to help paint a “bigger picture” in Test cricket more generally, and said that he hoped that their success this year would help to kill the narrative around the decline of red-ball cricket worldwide.

“I knew how much enjoyment the public would get out of seeing England play Pakistan in a Test match in Pakistan,” he said. “I don’t feel like we’re playing away, if that makes sense. The way in which the crowd come and watch cricket, they just want to see good cricket and even though we’ve won the first two games, we walk off to people just enjoying what they’ve watched. That’s what we want to do.

“Wherever we go in the world, we want people to enjoy the cricket, and the more we can do that – I keep saying it – the more Test cricket stops getting spoken about like it’s the losing form of cricket, because it’s definitely not. Days like this and Test matches like this – and last week as well – is what you live for, and you feel very honoured to be part of stuff like that.

“We understand the opportunities that are out there for people [in franchise cricket]. We’re not naïve in that. All we can do is try to create something where we want people to be a part of the long format going forward as well. A huge part is the culture, what we have going on in the dressing room, and the style in which you want to go out and play and just taking the pressure off people.

“This game comes with enough pressure without adding any more to it. A lot of people would love to be part of this dressing room at the moment. Obviously it’s great when you’re winning but take that away and we’re just here having a good time with a group of mates and then we’re fortunate enough to go out and represent our country for four or five days a week in Test matches.”



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