Manchester : England skipper Ben Stokes has rated the Test victory against South Africa on Saturday as the finest this summer, attributing it to an “amazing team performance” and the “benchmark” the side has set for itself after Brendon McCullum took over as head coach.
England dismissed the Proteas for a paltry 179 in the second innings to complete an innings and 85-run win and level the three-Test series 1-1 at Old Trafford.Ben Stokes was declared ‘Player of the Match’ for his century and four wickets in the contest.
This was England’s fifth win in six Tests since Stokes and coach McCullum came together to lead the faltering side.On whether the win against South Africa was the finest this summer, Stokes was quoted as saying by Daily Mail: “When you take the last game into consideration, with the way we managed to come back and put the performance in that we have done, you could say yes.”
England had suffered a crushing loss in the opening Test at Lord’s, losing by an innings and 12 runs, with critics questioning their ultra-attacking style of play against a top Test-playing and competitive side like South Africa.
“It was an amazing team performance all-round. Cricket is about how you bat, bowl and field and I think the way we batted, bowled and fielded this whole game was the benchmark of the standards we set. We never let up,” added the skipper.
Stokes said he was determined to create his “own theatre” at Old Trafford after his 14-over-long spell led to the side levelling the series 1-1.The all-rounder took the crucial wickets of Keegan Petersen (42) and Rassie van der Dussen (41), when the two were well settled, before James Anderson and Ollie Robinson polished off the tail to seal victory.
Explaining why he chose to bowl 14 overs on the trot on either side of the tea break, Stokes said, “When you are bowling with the older ball when nothing is really happening, you have to create your own energies and own theatre.
I’ve always felt that when the ball starts reverse swinging, that’s when I feel like I am at my best with the ball.”I had to think about when the new ball was around the corner and I didn’t want to have to turn to Jimmy (Anderson) or Robbo (Robinson) before that.
That’s why I bowled that long spell and I felt in good rhythm. It’s something I’ve done over my career with the older ball, just to try and run in and hit the wicket as hard as I can and try and make something out of nothing.
Then let the new-ball bowlers take the rewards at the end,” he added.Stokes said he was now looking forward to the third and final Test at The Oval from September 8 and the challenges the Proteas are expected to throw at his side.
“Now it is 1-1 going into the last game of the summer, it is very exciting to head to the Oval knowing that both teams have everything to play for. We will take a lot of confidence from this game knowing that we’ve won it but we know South Africa will come and throw everything at us. They don’t throw the towel in,” he added.