The independent voice of cricket

England v West Indies

Ben Stokes stands by decision to bat first despite Southampton loss

stokes toss
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

England’s stand-in skipper Ben Stokes stood by his decision to bat first despite their four-wicket defeat to West Indies in Southampton, saying he backed his team to post a substantial score first up and steal a march on the opponents.

England have won the toss in all four Tests played at the Ageas Bowl, choosing to bat first in the previous two instances, in 2014 and 2018 against India, both of which resulted in wins. When asked by Michael Atherton if, in retrospect, it would have been better to bowl first under the cloudy Southampton skies, Stokes stuck by his decision.

“I stand by the decision I made to bat first,” Stokes said at the post-match interaction. “We have got to be good enough to put first-innings runs on the board. That’s what we base our cricket around, if we elect to bat we have to go get 400-500 runs on the board, which, obviously, makes the game a lot more [favourable].

“We got ourselves in a position to really kick on, get 350-400, same when we came to bat again. We just didn’t quite manage to grasp what we could have done, but it’s a massive, massive learning curve for a lot of our batting line-up and for our young guys as well.”

Soon after the match began, seamer Stuart Broad, who was left out of the playing XI, backed Stokes’s call bat first, calling it a”100% right decision”. Stokes said that, despite the England team finding themselves in “great positions”, they weren’t able to clinch key moments in the game.

“Ideally, we would have liked to get a lot more runs in the first innings,” he said. “It was a first innings v fourth innings Test match, as is the case here generally. We got ourselves into some great positions at times with the bat, but unfortunately, we weren’t ruthless enough to really go on and make our batting innings count.”

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99