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England’s Trent Bridge euphoria must not mask concerns about Ben Stokes’ batting approach

4 6 13
15.06.2022

It may seem churlish to have any complaints in the warm glow of England’s second-Test win over New Zealand this week, but the result shouldn’t totally erase concerns that Ben Stokes is becoming a caricature of coach Brendon McCullum.

The skipper has done extraordinary things across formats over the years, not least leading England to victory at Trent Bridge on Tuesday. His batting in the second innings in particular ensured England romped to one of the most remarkable wins in their history, chasing 300 in exactly 50 overs. And he batted injured for large parts of it too.

Yet Stokes the batter is better than his stats – still averaging mid-30s – suggest, and the way he batted in the last two Tests was not always what the doctor ordered, even if it was explosive and entertaining.

Under the new regime, he has given himself total licence to bat aggressively from the first ball in a manner reminiscent of McCullum’s own attitude towards the end of his career.

As his time wound down, McCullum’s strike rate increased from 53 per hundred balls in 2012 to 64, then 72.5, 80, and 125 in subsequent seasons. Indeed he still holds the record for........

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