The whole England team will be boosted by the Indian Premier League performances of Ben Stokes, according to one-day captain Eoin Morgan, who believes the all-rounder’s influence will be crucial in a “ruthless” Champions Trophy.
It was a match-winning performance made despite cramp in his calves and his team being in dire trouble at 10 for three when he came to the crease. It won him praise from his Australian colleagues at Pune, Steve Smith and Adam Zampa, and rocketed Stokes’s profile in India.
Stokes will miss the two-match Ireland series that starts on Friday but will rejoin England at a training camp in Spain from May 14 before the three-match series against South Africa and the Champions Trophy, which starts with a game against Bangladesh on June 1.
Only two of the four teams from England’s group advance to the knockout stages and Morgan knows his side have to start the tournament well or they could be out within a week. England play New Zealand on June 6 followed by Australia four days later.
Morgan said: “I think we’re definitely in with a shout. We have all the attributes to win the tournament. It’s a ruthless competition. You go into games needing to win pretty much every one. It will be a good gauge of where we’re at.”
Morgan returned from the IPL on Monday, attended England’s kit launch on Tuesday and will rejoin Kings XI Punjab for another 10 days after the Ireland series.
He watched closely how Stokes handled the pressure of performing as one of the IPL’s big signings and believes the confidence he has gained will lift the whole squad. Stokes has long been seen as the unofficial leader of the team and that will now have been enhanced.
“I think it just proves that he can compete with the best,” Morgan said. “Rubbing shoulders with the best names in the world, outperforming them or growing in confidence from playing with them are two things he’ll have in abundance when he comes back. It makes us grow as a group, knowing we have a player who potentially is the best in the world. That’s huge.”
England will train together for the first time this summer today in Bristol. Morgan revealed that England would have rested several players for the Ireland series but that recent injuries had prevented them from doing so. Mark Wood and David Willey both return after lengthy lay-offs.
The England and Wales Cricket Board have apologised to the counties for the late resting of players from the Royal London Cup.
England pulled Willey and Liam Plunkett out of Yorkshire’s match against Durham on Wednesday despite clearing them in March to play in the game.
“England have explained that they’ve reassessed the situation,” Martyn Moxon, the Yorkshire director of cricket, told the Yorkshire Post. “They’ve held their hands up and apologised and said that they’ve probably made a mistake on this, in that it’s been a bit of an oversight when the original email [regarding player availability] was sent out [in March]. We’ve accepted that and we move on.”