Stokes’ 176 and his 260-run stand with Dom Sibley, who scored the second century of his Test career, guided England to a first-innings 469/9 declared. The all-rounder later urged his teammates to show Archer support, saying “times like this are very tough” and “you can feel like you’re by yourself”.
“For us as players, and as the England cricket group, this is a time where our way of operation really needs to come through,” said Stokes. “We really need to be there to support Jofra right now. He’s a big talking point right now, but obviously he is by himself because of everything that’s going on at the moment. The worst thing we could do is leave him and say, ‘See you in five days time’.
“Times like this are very tough and you can feel like you’re by yourself. I don’t think anyone will allow that to happen. Jofra is a massive part of this group, as everyone is. If it was anyone [else], it would have been the same way of handling it. It’s all good talk of being there for people when things are going well and smoothly, but what really comes through is how you operate when someone needs you the most.”
“Archer may still be young, thrillingly unusual, and a gift to the English game. But while this was a rookie error, he’s no rookie.”@Phil_Wisden on why Jofra Archer can’t afford any more rejections of the script.https://t.co/JbEOstHP7w
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) July 17, 2020
Speaking on his 356-ball knock, Stokes said it was particularly satisfying to face over 300 balls in a Test innings. “I feel good with the bat in hand,” he said. “I didn’t during the first two weeks of the build-up period; it felt like a stick of rhubarb and I couldn’t hit the ball. But getting into a competitive environment brings out another side to most professionals.
“I’m happy where things are at and understanding my game plan, understanding where they will bowl to me, which [today] was to hang it wide and test my patience. So it was really making sure mentally I was strong enough. I was more buzzing that I faced over 300 balls than when I got my hundred – that’s something I never thought I’d do.”