Ben Stokes looks at how England have ascended to No 1 in the ICC's one-day international rankings
Ben Stokes says Paul Farbrace’s decision to bat him at No 6 during the summer of 2015 was a “turning point” in his England career.
Assistant coach Farbrace – who will lead England in the upcoming Twenty20 internationals against Australia and India – took interim charge of the national side three years ago following the sacking of Peter Moores, with one of his first decisions to restore Stokes to the position from where he hit his maiden Test ton, against Australia in Perth during the 2013-14 Ashes.
Stokes responded with scores of 92 and 101 against New Zealand at Lord’s and has cemented that berth since, with each of his six Test centuries, including his 258 against South Africa in Cape Town in January 2016, coming from the No 6 spot.
“I think that was the turning point for me in international cricket,” Stokes – speaking in the build-up to the fifth ODI between England and Australia at Old Trafford on Sunday – said of Farbrace’s decision to bat him at No 6.
“It’s a place where I made my debut, batting at No 6 and being that fourth bowler. I was then in and out of the team and if I was in I was batting at 8.
“So when Farby gave me the opportunity to come back into the side at No 6 again there was that self-belief, knowing that I’ve done this role successfully, whether for England or back at Durham.
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June 27, 2018, 6:00pm
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“Farby is great at getting the best out of the individual – even for myself, who has played quite a lot over the last three years, he is constantly saying go out, do what you do best and commit to it.
“He’s like that with everyone, whether it’s an experienced guy or a young guy coming in for their first couple of games.”
England’s white-ball game has evolved dramatically under the stewardship of Bayliss and Farbrace and the captaincy of Eoin Morgan, with the side ascending to No 1 in the ODI rankings just over three years after they were dumped out in the group stages of the World Cup.
Morgan’s men smashed a world-record ODI total of 481 at Trent Bridge en route to a 5-0 whitewash over Australia, and have now passed 350 on 11 occasions and topped 400 three times since their World Cup horror show.
3:55 Watch the best action from England's record breaking 481-6 against Australia in the third ODI at Trent Bridge.
Stokes – who hopes to return from his hamstring injury in time for the ODI series against India, which begins at Trent Bridge in July 12, before matches at Lord’s (July 14) and Headingley (July 17) – says the outlook in the camp is “completely different” and that the “fear” of failure has dissolved.
“When you get that free rein to go out and express yourself as we have done, then that fear and worry of what the reaction might be like in the changing room if it doesn’t come off is gone,” he said.
“You are one hundred per cent committed to what you want to execute out in the middle and as we have been so consistent, we are going to do it more consistently.
“There is no fluke in the turnaround happening so quickly and so well. We have literally every base covered in white-ball cricket.
3:31 Stokes gives an update on his fitness – and why strong competition for places will drive England forward
“Back then compared to now there is a completely different mindset within the team and the management.
“I think we broke it down a bit more back then in terms of 50 overs, whereas now the guys get the responsibility to assess conditions and then make their decisions based on that which, I think, is why we are getting these huge totals consistently.
England were knocked out of the ICC Champions Trophy last summer at the semi-final stage after losing to Pakistan on a slow, turning wicket in Cardiff – and Stokes says that is the area his team must improve heading into the 2019 World Cup on home soil.
“One thing we touched on was that we are great at getting 350-plus but not so good at getting the 250s that might win you games on slow pitches,” added the Durham man. “Working out those wickets is what we probably need to do to take our cricket to the next level.
“We need to understand we are not going to get wickets like Trent Bridge all the time and if we can get scores of 280, 290, even 300, then hopefully we can stay at No 1.”
Watch the video at the top of the page to hear more from Stokes, plus Michael Atherton’s views on why England have become such a dominant force in white-ball cricket.
Watch the one-off Twenty20 international between England and Australia, from Edgbaston, live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event from 6pm on Wednesday.
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