England all-rounder Ben Stokes has revealed the technical adjustments he made to his batting last winter which have allowed him to explore more angles and play the ball as late as possible early in his innings.
Speaking on Sky Cricket, Stokes, who top-scored for England in the first innings of the Manchester Test, explained how he worked on his trigger movement before England’s tour of South Africa this year, adopting a more open stance to allow him to manoeuvre the ball late.
The fine-tuned technique helped Stokes hit his highest score in England — 176 off 356 balls — the first time he has faced over 300 deliveries in a Test innings. Despite the lack of aggression, Stokes hit 17 fours and two sixes – one of them a delightful lofted drive over long on.
“To be honest, I went into the winter and worked a lot with Paul Collingwood,” Stokes said. “I felt, especially early on in my innings…that’s when I was feeling I was going quite hard at the ball [as] I obviously want to feel the ball on bat and sort of wanted to get going in that way. I really made a conscious effort in trying to find a way that allows me to play the ball as late as possible.
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“And I actually found getting that trigger from leg stump across to off stump allowed me to do that, but, and at the same time, it allowed me to get back into the ball as well, which, if I am hitting the ball straight down the ground whether that be with a drive or a defensive shot, I know that everything is pretty order for me. But my first 20-30 balls, I really concentrate on playing the ball as late as I possibly can. And I felt that changing this trigger helped me do that.”
When asked by Nasser Hussain if there was any hesitation in adopting a different technique after a highly successful 2019 Ashes series where he scored 441 runs at 55.12, Stokes said that he’s always on the lookout to improve himself further.
“I wasn’t worried about the change,” Stokes said. “For me, it’s always trying to find different things of how I can improve and get better. After 2019, one thing that stood out for me, as I said before was, early on it was not trying to go too hard at the ball and trying to find a way to allow myself to get in with not too much risk.
“Obviously, the later you play the ball, the more chances you got. So, those are the changes I made. I was really concentrating on my first 20-30 balls. Obviously, have had a bit of success with the new trigger. I am happy with where I am at the moment.”