Ben Stokes form ‘counts for nothing’ as England suffer another World Cup defeat
Stokes hit back-to-back half-centuries in the defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia.
Ben Stokes says his own impressive form with the bat “counts for nothing” unless England put their ailing World Cup campaign back on track.
The hosts and pre-tournament favourites suffered their third defeat in seven games as Australia sealed their semi-final spot with a 64-run win at Lord’s.
All of their setbacks have come when chasing, a facet of the game that had become the team’s calling card on their road to topping the world rankings.
Only Stokes has performed close to his best in the past two pursuits, following an unbeaten 82 against Sri Lanka with a battling 89 in England’s 221 all out against the Australians.
It took a near unplayable inswinging yorker from Mitchell Starc to end his lone stand on Tuesday and Stokes’ reaction spoke volumes – dropping his bat, hoofing it in frustration and then shaking his head as he exited the stage.
The all-rounder would be forgiven for taking the positives from his first back-to-back half-centuries since early 2017 but he is focused on the task at hand: doing enough against India and New Zealand in the next two games to reach the knockout phase.
“It always feels nice getting runs and stuff like that, but it counts for nothing when you can’t get over the line,” he said.
“It’s just disappointing, losing again. Everyone tries to go out there and play knocks to get over the line for the team. Normally we have two or three guys in the order who can do that.
“We have to really dig deep in these last couple of games. It won’t look like it when we’ve been bowled out quite cheaply in the last two games but we are a very, very confident team in terms of our batting line-up and these last two games aren’t going to knock our confidence at all.”
Sunday’s meeting with India at Edgbaston promises to be a marquee occasion but with plenty of ‘away’ support expected from Birmingham’s Asian community.
Home advantage has not even extended to the pitches on show in the event so far, with slower, stickier pitches than England typically prefer
“We’ve got a great record against India in England, but we’ll just have to wait and see what conditions we’re faced with,” admitted Stokes.
“It could be completely different conditions to what we faced here at Lord’s. We know what we are going to do going in with our plans and then it’s all about adjusting once the game starts. But they are another team who are in good form, so hopefully we can bring our best game.”
Hopes are high that Jason Roy will be back in action by then, having missed the last three games with a torn hamstring.
He was in prime form when injury struck whereas his replacement, James Vince, has managed just 40 runs in three innings
“Obviously losing a player of Jason’s class is tough,” said Stokes.
“He’s a world-class player and obviously we do miss him at the top.
“In terms of James Vince coming in…he is a phenomenal player, we’ve seen it day in day out in first-class cricket, but it’s a tough place to be when you are on the fringes and then all of a sudden someone gets injured.”