Ben Stokes rates England’s victory over New Zealand above World Cup final win

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 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

Ben Stokes said his team’s extraordinary win over New Zealand at Trent Bridge was his finest in an England shirt, and was built on an attitude of “running towards the danger” and never accepting a draw.

Jonny Bairstow scored a staggering 92-ball 136 that helped England chase 299 with 20 of their 72 overs to spare, following an outrageous assault after tea. Stokes hit the winning runs in his knock of 75 from 70 balls at the end of a Test match that saw both teams post more than 500 in their first innings.

At tea on the final day the game remained in the balance, but Stokes said England never contemplated settling for the draw.

"The message just was run into the fear of what the game was rather than stand still or back away from it,” he said. “I'll say it quite simply, we were either winning this game or losing it. That was the mentality that we wanted all the batters coming in to have. It's obviously paid off.

“When you have the backing of the coach and myself saying what I say about how we want to go about things, it obviously rubs off on the players in a very, very positive way. So you're not fearing failure, if anything you're to know just going out and doing what you want to do.”

Stokes heaped praise on Bairstow, saying he knew he was in the zone when he saw his “Jonny eyes” – a certain steeliness the Yorkshireman emits.

“Something we say in the dressing-room - he had his Jonny Eyes on today and when he gets those eyes on you know you’re on to something,” he said. "We were hardly speaking out there.

 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

“That was one of the best things I’ve ever seen, to do it in the fourth innings, chasing a big total, game in the balance, to play the way he did once he got past fifty was just mindblowing. Phenomenal to watch.”

Stokes has been central to some extraordinary England wins, most notably in 2019 when he was at the crease at the death in the World Cup final and the Ashes victory by one wicket at Headingley.

“That blows away Headingley, it blows away Lord's and the World Cup final,” he said. “Just emotionally and the enjoyment of every minute I had on that field, it was was incredible.

“In the field, it might sound stupid after 150 overs in the dirt but how everybody was just trying to come up with different plans how we were going to change the course of this game to put it back of our hand was just so enjoyable. You know, it was just amazing. The whole vibe this week has been awesome. And then to come out and perform the way that we did today.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

“I just can't quite wrap my head around how we've chased 299 with 20 overs left on day five of the Test match when we had to bowl 15 overs this morning. That's never going to happen again. But if it does, it is probably us who are going to do it.”

Stokes praised England’s team performance, with hundreds coming earlier in the game from Ollie Pope and Joe Root.

“This Test match will probably all be about today but you don’t win Test matches in the last session of day five without all the hard work you put in on day four,” he said.

“The way we bounced back w the bat after being in the field for a long time, them getting 550, the way we went about it with the bat. the rate that we scored, really allowed us to be in this position on day 5. Even bowling them out for 270 on a very flat wicket was a serious effort and I couldn’t be any more proud of the way that everybody stuck at it.”

“I’m struggling to find words for what we witnessed out there today, it was just phenomenal.”

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