The independent voice of cricket

Ashes 2023

Ben Stokes: The best way to keep Test cricket alive is to show players something that inspires them

by Michael Rudling 5 minute read

Ben Stokes has urged cricket boards to ‘embrace’ the changing nature of the game, and insisted that Test cricket needs to ‘excite’ players if it is to thrive.

The England Test captain has overseen something of a revolution since taking the role last summer, winning 11 of his 13 games in charge and introducing a new style of cricket with entertainment at its centre.

For Stokes, his new approach has come alongside a broader shift in the game that should be accepted by the bodies organising cricket, as he wrote in the Players’ Tribune: “The landscape is changing. Cricket as a sport is evolving in a huge way. Faster than it ever has before. Formats like T20, The Hundred and ODIs are bringing money and opportunities for players that didn’t exist even 15 years ago.”


Much of England’s Test squad for the Ashes, which begins on June 16, will come into the series with limited recent red-ball exposure due to their role in the IPL, something that would have been unheard of in other eras.

At the same time, Jason Roy recently cut short his England contract in order to play Major League Cricket in America. It will not prevent his being picked for internationals and the tournament does not coincide with any England fixtures, but the decision has been seen as part of a shift in how cricketers are thinking.

Stokes continued: “When I was growing up there was no greater privilege than to represent your country in a Test match – and I still believe that, by the way – but I’m not naive. Cricketers have short careers and I know players are going to make decisions about which route they go down based on financial security for them and their families. It’s natural.

“I really want boards across the world to get their heads around this, which they seem to be having a hard time doing. Rather than fight against it, we need to embrace it. Yes, we may lose a few talented players along the way, but the best way to keep Test cricket alive and at the pinnacle of the sport is to work harder to show players something that excites them and inspires them.”

Stokes, 32, restated England’s commitment to playing an exciting brand of cricket regardless of the opposition. He called for the phrase “bad shot” to be removed from the cricketing vocabulary, before adding: “The bottom line is, everybody fails at some point, so you might as well go out batting the way you want to. That won’t change just because it’s the Ashes.”

“Hopefully, the result is that we take the urn back, but the most important thing is that – whatever happens – you will be entertained.”

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