England captain Eoin Morgan has called Ben Stokes’ confidence “infectious”, hailing his increasing maturity as a player after the all-rounder’s match-winning performance against South Africa in the opening match of the 2019 World Cup.
Stokes’ all-round display: a breezy 89, two wickets, a run-out, and two catches, including a blinder in the deep, formed the fulcrum of England’s 104-run win over South Africa at The Oval, a performance that earned Stokes the Player of the Match award in his debut World Cup game.
“Everyone from five years old to 75 who watched the game can relate to having one of those days where you do nothing wrong. When he puts in a performance like that it is great, not only for English cricket but for the sport,” Morgan was quoted as saying by BBC Sport.
Walking in at 111-3, Stokes steadily built his innings, forging a crucial 106-run stand with Morgan in the middle overs. A late flourish ensured that he ended with a 79-ball 89, steering England to a total of 311.
“When his confidence is high, it rubs off on other guys. It’s infectious in the changing room and on the field. He’ll want the ball; he’ll want to be in the crucial moment with the bat when we’re losing wickets or need to up the rate. In important parts of the game, it makes him an important asset.”
Stokes returned to capture two wickets, capping it off with a brilliant display on the field, including a one-handed wonder grab to dismiss Andile Phehlukwayo at deep mid-wicket.
Morgan believes that Stokes has been “unbelievable” since his return to international cricket, after being cleared of affray charges in the 2017 Bristol Club incident.
“His work ethic, his mentality around the changing room and his performance have all worked towards what happened against South Africa. He did it with a great temperament, which is fantastic to see because he is maturing a huge amount as a cricketer.”
Stokes’ 89 turned out to be the second-highest score by an England No.5 batsman in a World Cup game, behind Paul Collingwood’s match-winning 90 in the 2007 World Cup Super Eights match against Ireland.
England’s next opponent, Pakistan, were bundled out for 105 against West Indies, their second-lowest total ever in a World Cup game. Ahead of the game at Nottingham on June 3, Morgan believes that, despite the drubbing, the Sarfaraz Ahmed-led side has the potential to be “extremely dangerous”.
“Pakistan are a side we’ve played a lot against recently and they are extremely dangerous any day of the week. We are preparing for their ‘A’ game to turn up and will try to impose our ‘A’ game.”