Harry Kane hopes Ben Stokes chat can inspire England at Euro 2024

Harry Kane is hoping a pre-Euro 2024 chat with England Test cricket captain Ben Stokes can provide inspiration against Slovakia on Sunday.

Stokes visited the England squad at their Middlesbrough training base before Gareth Southgate’s men jetted off to Germany.

Having topped their group despite widespread criticism for their performances, England now face Slovakia in Gelsenkirchen for a shot at reaching the Euro 2024 quarter-finals.

Stokes was invited to speak to the squad by Southgate and skipper Kane revealed he spent an hour picking the brains of a man who has won the World Cup in 2019 and the T20 equivalent three years later.

“Stoksey was at Rockliffe and I thought he was great,” said Kane.

“First and foremost, what a top guy. We all know how successful he’s been and it was great for a lot of us to talk to him.

“We had an hour’s conversation, just going through the highs and lows of his career and what he’s done to maintain a high level and to also improve. I thought it was really beneficial.

“He’s a great guy, he speaks really well and he’s had great experiences in his sport under the highest pressure. So, yes, that was really nice of him to come in to do that.

“It’s something we’ve done throughout the years. Gareth is quite keen on athletes from other sports to come in to try to help us in different environments. The lads enjoyed Ben being there.”

Stokes, alongside head coach Brendon McCullum, introduced an attacking style of play in Test cricket as ‘Bazball’ was born.

Kane and his team-mates have been criticised for three dull displays during the group stage in Germany – but explained his chat with Stokes laid out the fundamentals of ‘Bazball’, which does not mean going on the all-out attack against Slovakia.

“I think the biggest thing that I probably got from talking to Ben (Stokes) was that it’s not necessarily about being attacking, it’s more about making sure everybody is comfortable about what they’re doing.” added Kane.

“If you want to go out and play in a certain way, you play whatever way you want to play. It wasn’t everyone has to do the same thing, everyone has to go gung-ho and attack. It’s more ‘what’s your best way of scoring runs? OK you do that’.

“It’s more about making everyone feel comfortable in their environment. When you go out to play making them feel comfortable. That’s the biggest thing.

“This tournament in general hasn’t been a high-scoring tournament and we haven’t scored a lot of goals. It’s about being comfortable on the pitch. We have a plan and it’s about executing that plan.

England captain Harry Kane motivates his side against Slovenia
England have struggled for goals at Euro 2024 (Martin Rickett/PA)

“That’s the biggest thing, about people doing what they feel – in high pressure games or big games – that’s when you come out and do your best.

“I feel we’ve been ruthless on the defensive side, in terms of blocks and blocking crosses and winning balls and now it’s down to me, the attacking players and maybe the midfielders to maybe be a bit more ruthless in the final third of the pitch.”

The response to England’s Group C campaign – which saw them beat Serbia 1-0 before drawing with both Denmark and Slovenia – led to plenty of negativity aimed at Southgate.

The 53-year-old said after the Slovenia stalemate that he wants all the criticism to be aimed at him and not his players – but Kane insists they are all in it together.

“I think we all take it as a team,” he added.

“We all want to help each other. We’re all part of the same team, whether it’s the staff or the players. We all have a responsibility to try and win this tournament and ultimately we’re the ones on the pitch to try and make that happen.

“The boss will prepare us as well as possible, as he always does, and it’s up to us to go out and execute it.

England manager Gareth Southgate sits in the dugout against Denmark
Gareth Southgate has been under pressure from England fans (Adam Davy/PA)

“It’s not the first time there’s been noise around the manager, since I’ve been an England player.

“So I think we know how to deal with it. We know what we’re doing here. We trust the process, we trust everything that we believe in. And the rest of it is just noise. It’s something that you block out and focus on yourself.

“I think we’ve been really good at that in the past tournaments and this tournament is no different.”