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I don't have to prove a thing: Stokes

 

Bright light: Ben Stokes has impressed in the World Cup after last year’s court case
Bright light: Ben Stokes has impressed in the World Cup after last year’s court case
Jos Buttler

By Rory Dollard

Ben Stokes does not view England's World Cup summer as a shot at personal redemption following his high-profile court date last year, insisting: "I don't have to prove myself to anyone".

Stokes has been one of the stars of the tournament to date, pulling off a wonder catch in the opening game against South Africa as well as providing key contributions with bat and ball.

The all-rounder will continue to be on the front line as England pursue the trophy, part one of a golden summer that also sees them take on Australia for the Ashes.

Yet less than a year ago, Stokes might have been wondering whether he would still have an international career.

Last August, he was cleared on a charge of affray at Bristol Crown Court following a late night altercation in September 2017.

Stokes accepts the incident will always be with him but has been able to move on and recommit to the challenges ahead.

He said: "We've got the World Cup and the Ashes, and people have said to me, 'Are you trying to prove yourself all over again?'.

"But I don't have to do that. I don't have to prove myself to anyone. I only have to prove things to myself. I'm not looking to please anyone, or to go out there and do something individually great. As long as England win, I don't really care about trying to prove a point to people.

"What I have learned is that the people I need - who are important to what I do and who I want to be there - are around me. Before, you try to please everyone but you just can't do it.

"There are other lessons, but that's the main thing. It has made me understand who the right people are, and who I need in my life."

As for the shadow of Bristol, he feels he has now come to terms with it and does not feel the need to become an entirely new person.

"It's always going to be there, it's always going to be with me," he added. "People are always going to ask me about it. I'm fine with that, I've dealt with it.

"I'm not going to suddenly be an angel because that's not me. It's just about trying to make better decisions but I don't think of this in terms of it being a second opportunity."

Stokes also spoke about leading his country in the future after losing his role as Test vice-captain during his time away.

"If you get the opportunity and they ask you, you're not going to say no but at the moment that's not in my mind," he said.

Meanwhile, Matt Prior believes "X-factor cricketer" Jos Buttler is irreplaceable and has urged England to avoid taking risks which could aggravate his injury.

Star batsman Buttler is "responding well to treatment" on a heavily bruised right hip but remains a doubt for Friday's World Cup clash with the West Indies.

The wicketkeeper-batsman sustained the problem while batting during Saturday's 106-run victory over Bangladesh and did not re-emerge after the break.

Prior, who performed a similar role for England between 2007 and 2014, has urged caution to prevent Buttler suffering further damage and potentially being ruled out of the latter stages.

"He's probably one of the best that's ever played one-day cricket. He would be a huge loss," said Prior at the Chance to Shine schools' open day, supported by Yorkshire Tea. "It would be like saying to India, 'Could you replace Virat Kohli?'.

"You can't replace Jos Buttler, but hopefully the injury isn't too bad and he can recover quickly and go back to smashing the ball all over the place.

"If there is risk that playing the next game might scupper his chances for later in the tournament, I wouldn't take that risk.

"I think it's about nullifying the risk of him not being involved in those knockout stages."

Buttler was left visibly hobbling against Bangladesh after launching one of four sixes during a lively cameo of 64. He has scored 185 runs in 136 balls in his three World Cup knocks so far, including 103 against Pakistan.

South Africa-born Prior, who was speaking at Lord's where in 2007 he became the first England wicketkeeper to hit a century on Test debut, added: "Whenever he walks out to bat you just think, 'What's going to happen today? How many balls is he going to score a hundred off this game? And what ridiculous shot is he going to come out with?'.

"He's just an X-factor cricketer. He's a phenomenal talent and it's incredible to have him in an England shirt."

Jonny Bairstow deputised with the gloves and would happily do so again should the 28-year-old Buttler not be passed fit, while James Vince or Moeen Ali would vie for his place in the XI.

The England and Wales Cricket Board offered a cautiously optimistic update on Buttler but fell short of confirming his availability for the fourth group game in Southampton.

"Jos sustained heavy bruising on his right hip during the match against Bangladesh in Cardiff. He is responding well to treatment and will be reassessed later this week," it read.

"We anticipate he will train with the rest of the squad at the Hampshire Bowl on Wednesday ahead of the match against West Indies on Friday."

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