England skipper pleased with team’s efforts to force tempo; series at The Oval targets squared
England did “literally everything we possibly could” to force a result in the fourth Ashes Test at Emirates Old Trafford, according to Ben Stokes,
England did “literally everything we possibly could” to force a result in the fourth Ashes Test at Emirates Old Trafford, according to Ben Stokes, delivering a “pretty much perfect” performance in a game they “completely and utterly” dominated.
After winning the toss, England led by 275 runs after bowling Australia out for 317 before putting up 592 in 107.4 overs and leading by 61 runs heading into the final day with Australia five wickets down in their second innings.
However, when the weather cut the fourth day’s play short at 30 overs, it forced a total washout on Sunday, giving England the chance to press for victory and leaving Australia 2-1 ahead heading into the final Test at The Oval next week, keeping the Ashes urn.
“The cricket we got in this game was potentially an opportunity for a team to play it safe, to wait and see what the outcome might be,” Stokes explained. “That was not done by us. We didn’t back down from what had to be done.
“We’re always putting our best foot forward and pressing the game as hard as we can.” As a captain, that makes me very happy to be the leader of the ten other guys out there. It’s just a shame we only got three hours in over the last two days.”
The draw was the first in Stokes’ term as permanent captain, following 12 wins and four defeats in his previous 16 Tests. “I think it’s the first draw for us, through no fault of our own,” he said. “We try to make the best of bad situations.” We literally did everything we could.
“We couldn’t change the weather, and we can’t change it.” It’s a tough pill to swallow knowing that’s why we’re sitting here with a tie, but we’ve done everything we could in the hours of play we’ve had. Throughout the hours of gaming, we were absolutely and utterly dominant. It’s unfortunate, but oh well.”
When asked to compare his emotions in Manchester to those after England’s first two Test defeats at Edgbaston and Lord’s, Stokes stated, “I think they’re completely different.”
“Obviously, we played some brilliant cricket in those games, but we also played some cricket that we knew we could have improved on.” But in this game, I can’t look back and say, ‘We should have done better there,’ since we were nearly flawless throughout.
“Bowling Australia out and then scoring the runs we did at the rate we did—to be honest, I can’t say we did anything wrong in this game.” It’s difficult to argue we ended up with a tie when we controlled the cricket we were able to play.”
England can no longer win the series outright, but they can deny Australia their first away Ashes win since 2001 by defeating them at The Oval in the fifth Test, which begins on Thursday, exactly like they did four years ago.
“It’s very similar to 2019, when we had to go to The Oval and win in order to draw the series,” Stokes added. “We’ll have to get over today’s disappointment and then concentrate on that game.” It’s a big game for us, and 2-2 sounds much better than 3-1.
“Within the dressing room, the mentality and mindset are to go out and win.” Consider the Pakistan series, where we might have relaxed in the final game knowing we’d won the series, but we didn’t. We went out with the same mindset about how we wanted to play cricket.
“Every time we walk out on the field, I tell the players to focus on what they need to do as individuals to influence a game in the right way.” If it doesn’t happen, you still have the option to do it in a different way or during a separate session. Everything we do is to be positive and get a positive result for England.”
A final at The Oval would have been “a very, very special week in the history of English cricket,” according to Stokes, but his team has “already done wonders” for the sport across the country.
“It would have elevated everything that the series has already done for Test cricket, especially in England,” he explained. “However, I believe what we’ve accomplished so far has already done wonders for cricket in England.”
“I believe we will continue to receive the same level of support as we have throughout the series next week.” We’ll approach it like any other game, and I’m hoping for the same kind of support as if the score was 2-2.”
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