Ben Stokes staying upbeat despite England’s Ashes struggles

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England’s Ben Stokes is remaining upbeat (Jason O’Brien/PA) (PA Wire)
England’s Ben Stokes is remaining upbeat (Jason O’Brien/PA) (PA Wire)

Ben Stokes refused to accept England were down and out after a dispiriting day of Ashes cricket in Adelaide.

Stokes’s never-say-die attitude and ability to imagine the impossible has served England well over the years, with his 2019 Headingley heist against the Australians the most remarkable example.

Back then England had plumbed the depths of 67 all out before his unforgettable day-four chase, when he finished 135 not out and put on 76 with No 11 Jack Leach.

A turnaround of similar proportions could be required to prevent England going 2-0 down in the coming days, with Australia taking control of the day/night second Test with bat and ball.

A century from Marnus Labuschagne, 93 from Steve Smith and some late punishment from the tail saw them declare on 473 for nine, with openers Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed knocked over under lights.

Lightning and rain spared England any further losses but at 17 for two the road back in a long one.

“If you don’t believe you’re already beaten,” said the all-rounder, whose words appeared to be aimed as much at fans back home as they were to team-mates in the dressing room.

“We’ve seen a lot of the support we’ve been getting on social media from everyone back in England and the guys who have been supporting us here in Australia have been absolutely phenomenal,” he said.

“It’s incredible wherever we go. You hear them even though they’re outnumbered and there are people are staying up through the middle of the night to watch us from afar in the bars and stuff.

“That’s incredible to see. Obviously the first Test didn’t go well and Australia are ahead at the moment but we know back home we’ll be getting as much support as we always do and for us it’s about letting them know we really appreciate it.”

Just a few months ago Stokes was not expected to be anywhere near this series, but came back from a mental health break to take his place in the touring party.

Labuschagne scored 103 runs from 305 balls on another difficult day for England in Adelaide (PA)
Labuschagne scored 103 runs from 305 balls on another difficult day for England in Adelaide (PA)

Asked if it had been a worthwhile decision after six largely punishing days and some long, lean spells in the field he was emphatic.

“Yes. I’ve loved every minute of it,” he said.

“If you don’t feel sore getting up in the morning, you’ve probably not done what’s required of you. You’ve just got to love the dirt when you get that deep in the game and understand what you’re playing for.”

While player safety protocols dictated the game should end when the lightning bolts started appearing a little too close for comfort, Labuschagne was only thinking about forcing home the Australian advantage.

“I saw a big lightning bolt, almost like a big camera flashing, but I was just hoping we could stay on the field so we could get some more wickets,” he said.

Australia had already guaranteed another difficult day for Burns, who nicked a fine delivery from Mitchell Starc to take his record on tour to 17 runs in three innings, with a grand total of 31 balls faced.

“Starcy is doing a beautiful job of getting Rory out at the minute, it seems that way,” added Labuschagne.

“We all know Starcy has bowled some really good balls at him and we want to make sure we keep driving forward and putting England under pressure.”

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