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Ben Stokes says England can ‘show the world the talent we have’ under himself and Brendon McCullum

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Watch England take on New Zealand live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10am on Thursday – captain Ben Stokes says of new era: “We have a blank canvas in front of us and we are the ones who are going to dictate how that canvas looks. This is not the media’s team”

Last Updated: 01/06/22 2:54pm

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England captain Ben Stokes speaks about the batting order, what debutant Matthew Potts will bring and having Stuart Board and James Anderson back

England captain Ben Stokes speaks about the batting order, what debutant Matthew Potts will bring and having Stuart Board and James Anderson back

Captain Ben Stokes believes England can “show the world the talent we have got” as he and new Test coach Brendon McCullum offer the side a “blank canvas” after a defeat-strewn run.

The Stokes and McCullum era begins at Lord’s on Thursday as England face reigning World Test champions New Zealand – live on Sky Sports Cricket and Main Event from 10am – with Durham fast bowler Matthew Potts to make his debut alongside the returning James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

Stokes, looking to rally England after a sequence of one victory in the previous 17 Tests, hopes players “express themselves” and feel encouraged to voice their opinions during his tenure as skipper, with the all-rounder taking on the role following Joe Root’s resignation in April.

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Speaking to Sky Sports Cricket’s‘ Ian Ward on the eve of the first Test, Stokes said: “I didn’t specifically ask for the job but I rang [new managing director of England men’s cricket] Rob Key and said I am ready for the job if you want to give it to me. I want to be a leader who is true to himself.

“I know I have been a leader in the dressing room for a while without being captain and I will try to continue to be the same Ben Stokes I have been for the last couple of years – leave everything out there and wear my heart on my sleeve. I hope everybody can follow the example I have tried to set.

“It’s been a tough couple of years with Covid, how we have had to live, how much cricket we have had to play, everything like that. I’d be stupid to think no one is carrying any scars. But I have addressed that.

“We have acknowledged what we have been through as individuals and as a team. I didn’t think we could move forward without acknowledging that.

New Zealand fast bowler Tim Southee says the role of England Test coach is a great challenge for Brendon McCullum

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New Zealand fast bowler Tim Southee says the role of England Test coach is a great challenge for Brendon McCullum

New Zealand fast bowler Tim Southee says the role of England Test coach is a great challenge for Brendon McCullum

“Under Baz [McCullum] and myself, I think we can show the world the talent we have got in this team at the moment. We haven’t been able to do that [recently], I don’t know why, but we will be making sure that we give everyone the best opportunity to express themselves.

This is our team, not the media’s team

“We have a blank canvas in front of us and we are the ones who are going to dictate how that canvas looks after six months or a year.

“This isn’t the media’s team. They are going to say stuff, no doubt, and with social media things can get seen and read but I want people to know I don’t care about that. It’s about what goes on in this dressing room. That is the most important thing.

“The simplest thing I can think of is ‘loosen your bat grip’. If you are gripping too hard it is tense and anxious. I’ve just said to the guys, ‘put it down, pick it back up and feel like you are playing in the garden’. That is literally the message of how I want people to feel under my captaincy.”

A new era for English cricket begins as England take on World Test champions New Zealand in the first Test at Lord's

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A new era for English cricket begins as England take on World Test champions New Zealand in the first Test at Lord’s

A new era for English cricket begins as England take on World Test champions New Zealand in the first Test at Lord’s

Stokes says England will not play “gung-ho” cricket under himself and former New Zealand captain McCullum but will always look to take the positive option.

The 30-year-old also stressed that any off-field commitments he has as England captain come secondary to helping revive his side on it.

England have tumbled to sixth in the world Test rankings – with their lowest points tally since 1995 – and are bottom of the current World Test Championship.

Stokes said: “The best way to put it is that this Test team needs a bit of Brendon McCullum. Excitement in having him as head coach, calmness and really making everyone feel massive. He has said his responsibility is to make people feel 10ft tall and I think he is very good at doing that.

“As a team you have to understand that you have to absorb pressure at times but you also need to understand when to put pressure back on. It’s not going to be gung-ho cricket, it’s just going to be about being more positive in general. I think the lads have responded really well.

“I know there is going to be more off-field stuff for me to do but I have made it clear to people around me that they are going to have to do that as what I need to concentrate on most is winning games for England. Helping the team tactically but also with what I do on the field. Any help with that other responsibility is what I said I have wanted from the get-go.”

Recalled seamer Broad is approaching the first Test as if he were making his England debut

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Recalled seamer Broad is approaching the first Test as if he were making his England debut

Recalled seamer Broad is approaching the first Test as if he were making his England debut

England’s XI against New Zealand includes three players with over 100 Test appearances in Root, Broad and Anderson, as well as Jonny Bairstow, who has been capped 83 times in the format.

Stokes added: “This isn’t a case of ‘this is my team. If you don’t listen, I’ll go home!’ I would be silly not to use the experience I have got around me.

“I feel one of the most important things as leader is to make people around you feel valued and that they feel they are being listened to. The last thing I want to do is make people feel like they can’t say something.

“I know I am quite an instinctive person and someone might be able to counteract that with some logical thinking, so I will be using experience around me.”

Watch the first Test between England and New Zealand live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event from 10am on Thursday.





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