Ben Stokes has revealed that it was the banter with Australia’s David Warner that fuelled his heroic match-winning knock in Leeds. Ben Stokes was unbeaten at 135 to power England through to a one-wicket victory which restored parity to the series at 1-1.
“I had extra personal motivation due to some things that were said to me out on the field on the evening of day three when I was trying to get through to stumps,” read an extract published by Daily Mirror from Stokes’s book ‘On Fire’. A few of the Aussies were being quite chirpy, but in particular, David Warner seemed to have his heart set on disrupting me.
“He just wouldn’t shut up for most of my time out there. I could accept it from just about any other opponent. Truly. Not from him, though. The changed man he was adamant he’d become, the one that hardly said boo to a goose and even went as far as claiming he had been re-nicknamed ‘Humble’ by his Australia teammates, had disappeared. Maybe his lack of form in his new guise had persuaded him that he needed to get the bull back?”
Warner endured a terrible run during the Ashes – scoring just 95 from nine innings – and Stokes felt the lack of runs got to him. “Although he’d enjoyed a prolific World Cup campaign, he had struggled with the bat at the start of the Ashes and was perhaps turning to his old ways to try to get the best out of himself. The nice-guy act had done nothing for his runs column,” the all-rounder wrote.
“I muttered ‘Bloody Warner’ a few times as I was getting changed. The more time passed, the more it spurred me on. All kinds of ideas of what I might say to him at the end of the game went through my head. In the end, I vowed to do nothing other than shake his hand and say ‘Well done’ if I could manufacture the situation. You always shake the hands of every member of the opposing team at the end of a match. But this one would give me the greatest sense of satisfaction.”
He also revealed how disappointed Alex Hales was when he found out he was not a part of the ICC World Cup squad. “The rest of us were truly taken aback when we found out that he was missing some cricket, citing personal reasons,” he revealed. It was subsequently reported in the press that his absence was due to a 21-day suspension for failing two recreational drug tests. The group of senior players within the squad had no idea that he had been suspended because the ECB’s rules require it to keep such suspensions confidential.
“It was not that any of us wanted to pry into the troubles of one of our teammates; rather than Alex as an individual had not felt able to share his struggles with a group that he’d spent so much time with, in a team environment over the past few years, that bothered us.
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