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Trevor Bayliss is happy for Ben Stokes to take chances

By Rory Dollard

Published 08/01/2016

Backing Stokes: England coach Trevor Bayliss
Backing Stokes: England coach Trevor Bayliss

Head coach Trevor Bayliss is ready to take the rough with the smooth as he oversees the development of England all-rounder Ben Stokes.

Stokes (24) is the youngest member of the touring party in South Africa but bristles with a special magnetism that marks him out as player of rare promise.

His unforgettable 258 in the drawn second Test at Cape Town placed Stokes front and centre in the nation's cricketing consciousness, as he bludgeoned his way into the record books with 30 fours and 11 sixes.

He has long drawn comparisons to Sir Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff, annointed to pick up their baton since his teenage years, but his devastating innings at Newlands called to mind the frenzied brilliance of Kevin Pietersen.

There was something very Pietersen-esque about his second-innings dismissal too, caught on the boundary sweeping at a time when England were digging in to save the game.

But while Pietersen often felt vilified when his attacking style cost him his wicket, Stokes looks set to be given a freer hand by Bayliss.

"You don't want to stifle that sort of ability," said the laidback Australian.

"He's going to be one of those players who can win a team a match and at different times he's going to disappoint as well - as all of those types of players in history have shown.

"To be honest we didn't say anything to Ben in either of his innings - that's just the way he went out and played, he just let it happen.

"I think the shot he was out on was the right shot, he probably just didn't play it correctly.

"Over a period of time I think he'll become more consistent and maybe take a lot more right options. Making those right decisions is an area that he'll learn going forward."

Bayliss' commitment to proactive cricket is a step change from the recent history of the national side, whose ascent to number one in the world under Andy Flower was built around a methodical approach aimed at maximising the percentages.

Flower would have been apoplectic to see his side go from a dominant position in Cape Town to 116 for six on the final day, briefly offering the Proteas hope of series-levelling win.

But Bayliss was measured in his assessment, sticking to his call for aggression, albeit with some refinements and qualifications.

"On the last day we could have blocked it out and been 50 runs and six, seven or eight wickets down. Then we'd have been really staring down the barrel.

"But we were proactive and looked for the runs when they were on offer. But being aggressive is not just about hitting fours and sixes. Being aggressive is being mentally aggressive (when) your feet are moving well."

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