Ben Stokes: If England are 2-1 up in the Ashes, leading by 300 on the last day at The Oval, I will still declare
England won’t put any limits on their win-at-all costs approach this summer, even if it puts them in danger of failing to regain the Ashes, Ben Stokes has said.
With the 2023 Ashes fast approaching, Stokes spoke to Nasser Hussain in an in-depth Sky Sports interview, covering selection, conditions, and his own fitness.
Stokes, along with head coach Brendon McCullum, has pioneered a revolutionary attacking approach as England Test captain, guiding England to 10 wins from 12 matches since taking over the job. Notably, he has been prepared to risk defeat in pursuit of victory, enforcing the follow-on in the second Test against New Zealand and allowing the Black Caps to secure a series-levelling victory, and dangling a carrot for Pakistan in the first Test at Rawalpindi to give England a shot at a last-gasp win on the final day.
However, the Ashes will present a different challenge, as England’s most sought-after prize in Test cricket. They have not held the urn since a 4-0 defeat in the 2017/18 Ashes, and there has been speculation that this summer’s encounter, between Stokes’ England and the No.1 ranked Australia, could rival the 2005 Ashes, rated as one of the best Test series ever played.
Hussain asked Stokes whether England’s philosophy would change considering the magnitude of the contest. “You’re 2-1 up going into The Oval, would you declare on 480-8, first innings?” he asked.
“Yes, Stokes replied. “Especially if we’ve only got Jimmy left! Walking wicket, isn’t he?”
Hussain then put forward an even more specific scenario.
“And if on the last day you’re 300 ahead, three wickets down, and you’re 2-1 up in the Ashes. You just need a draw, [Like] ‘05, just have a draw, bails off and you walk off Ashes winners. Are you declaring or are you batting on?”
“I’d declare,” Stokes said. “You can hold me to it. I’m not going to change anything just because we’re in the Ashes. Every game that I play this summer in this Ashes will be to produce a result. I’m not going to change for anything or any situation, because then I’m not being true to myself or what I’ve done over the last year.”