Sir Ian Botham has said that star all-rounder Ben Stokes will be the England team’s key in the upcoming Ashes 2021-22 series which begins in Brisbane from December 8th onwards. Stokes, who returns as Test vice-captain at the Gabba in just over a fortnight following a nine-month absence triggered by a fractured finger, is more effective in his top-six role. The 30-year-old averages 37.04 with the bat and 31.68 with the ball.
Ben Stokes was a crucial reason why England managed to draw the last Ashes series in England, including his brilliant century in Headingley Test. He had taken a leave of absence to work on his mental health and give time to his fractured finger to heal, and hence missed the T20 World Cup 2021 and second half of the IPL 2021 as well.
Ben Stokes Is A Match Winner: Ian Botham
Sir Ian Botham lauded Ben Stokes and called him a crucial weapon for England against Australia in the upcoming Ashes.
“Ben is a match winner. I hope that he’s fit enough to bowl and strong enough because that will be crucial – he’s an aggressive bowler. Everyone talks about his batting – we know about that – but I think his bowling needs to be used in four or five over bursts on those Australian pitches when the ball is reasonably new as well,” Botham said during recordings of Inside the Tour podcast.
The last time England toured Australia for Ashes in 2017-18, Stokes was not part of the three lions team as he was under suspension by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). However, Botham recognizes him as a bowler with 15 wickets across four appearances in 2013-14, his debut Test series.
Lord Botham has backed Stokes to be effective bowling and batting in the series this winter.
“There’s no point in us turning up with four 80-mile-an-hour bowlers because that Kookaburra ball after 10 overs is going to get smashed to all parts at that pace. You need people like Mark Wood, Ben Stokes, (Ollie) Robinson – these are the guys that are going to play. Jimmy is going to play, but I don’t see him playing all the Tests, and I certainly don’t see Broady playing all the Test.
So, it’s a chance for these other guys and I think England have to be brave in their selection. With Jimmy, you definitely play him in Adelaide for the day-nighter and then pick and choose how you want to do it. You’ve got to look after Jimmy’s, he’s 39 now, so he needs a little bit of TLC. He will have a part to play; above everything else, he’s a senior pro and he can offer so much advice to the other guys, it’s essential he’s there,” Botham said.
Ben Stokes’ inclusion in the Ashes 2021-22 series is a huge boost to the England team who would be looking to win the Ashes series.