Stokes: I’m no angel but I’ve nothing to prove
The England all-rounder has opened up about his cricket career following last year’s court appearance.
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.
In an interview with Red Bulletin, Stokes 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, obviously, 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 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. Ben Stokes
“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 from the side.
“If you get the opportunity and they ask you to do it, you’re not going to say no but at the moment that’s not in my mind,” he said.
:: Read the full interview with Ben Stokes in the latest copy of the Red Bulletin – out June 11. See him in action at https://www.redbull.com/gb-en/ben-stokes-relentless-cricket-training-session