When the pressure is on England can rely on Ben Stokes, says Paul Collingwood

Paul Collingwood has backed Ben Stokes to rise to the big occasion once more as England pray the rain stays away in a make-or-break T20 World Cup clash against New Zealand.

While Stokes has been useful with the ball and had a couple of highlight-reel moments in the field since his T20 return earlier this month, he is averaging just 10.25 with the bat in five matches.

Stokes has registered just eight runs in two innings at the World Cup, a disappointing return given he has been elevated into the top four, and he remains without a half-century in 39 T20 internationals.

Ben Stokes is averaging just 10.25 with the bat since his T20 recall (PA)
Ben Stokes is averaging just 10.25 with the bat since his T20 recall (PA)

Despite speculation about his chronic knee issue, England insist he is fit and available to play in his first limited-overs game against New Zealand since his star showing against them in the 2019 World Cup final.

Collingwood, one of England’s assistant coaches and Stokes’ former team-mate at Durham, pointed out the Test captain often reserves his best performances for when his side needs them most.

With England needing a win at Brisbane to realistically keep their hopes of a top-two finish in their Super 12s group alive to reach the semi-finals, Collingwood feels the stage could be set for Stokes.

“The one person that you want in your team when the pressure is on is Ben Stokes,” Collingwood said. “I know well that if it comes down to the crunch that you want a man like Ben Stokes walking out.

“We all know what he’s capable of, and not just match-winning innings, but match-winning innings under serious amounts of pressure. It’s not just the runs he makes, but it’s everything else that he gives.

England have insisted Stokes is fit and available to play (James Ross/PA)
England have insisted Stokes is fit and available to play (James Ross/PA)

“I’m pretty confident there’s an innings just around the corner, and now we’re coming into the crucial part of the World Cup, and it’s almost a knockout stage for us.

“You always see Ben come to the fore in those situations.”

Stokes has not taken part in either of England’s two practice sessions at Allan Border Field since they got to Brisbane, although this is not remarkable in itself as training is optional under Jos Buttler.

He travelled to the venue on Monday, but his only involvement was to walk a few laps of the ground with the team doctor, and he has been spotted with heavy strapping on his left knee in recent weeks.

But Collingwood, who captained England to their first global trophy at the 2010 T20 World Cup, insisted there were no injury doubts ahead of a fixture which threatens to be overshadowed by the weather.

Paul Collingwood led England to victory at the 2010 T20 World Cup (Rebecca Naden/PA)
Paul Collingwood led England to victory at the 2010 T20 World Cup (Rebecca Naden/PA)

England’s bid to bounce back from their Ireland loss was thwarted by a Melbourne washout and more rain is forecast at the Gabba on Tuesday, but the worst of it could be before the sides play in the evening.

“We try not to think too much about the weather, we don’t want to dampen the spirits and all that kind of stuff,” Collingwood said. “We’ll just have to figure out what game we’ve got.

“Hopefully the sunshine’s out by the time the game’s around and we get a full 40 overs in.”

Australia have joined New Zealand on five points – two ahead of England – while reducing their net run-rate deficit, which will be decisive if teams finish level on points, after beating Ireland on Monday.

England’s batting has misfired so far, but Collingwood is optimistic they can hit their straps as he demanded more of a ruthless attitude for the remainder of the tournament.

Collingwood is one of England's assistant coaches (Nigel French/PA)
Collingwood is one of England’s assistant coaches (Nigel French/PA)

“It’s in our hands,” he said. “In the must-win games you’ve got to make sure that you’re on the more aggressive side of the line, rather than be conservative.

“I can remember 2010, it was almost like a juggernaut once you got going and the guys understood their roles in the side and the confidence started building, it was very hard to stop.

“It’s cut-throat and you’re right on the edge. We need to keep applying pressure at all times and that’s when we play our best cricket. The guys are confident. You can sense it in the nets.

“I know fine well that, if they go out there and put their net performances in out in the middle, they’re going to cause a lot of trouble.

“There’s no better place to win a World Cup than Australia. It obviously starts against New Zealand.”