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England v West Indies

‘He doesn’t need to make up shots’ – Hussain on the tweaks Stokes needs to improve

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Ben Stokes needs to be more ruthless with the bat and average “far more than 36 after 64 Tests”, former England captain Nasser Hussain has said.

Hussain, writing in his column on the Daily Mail, believes Stokes has a tendency to invent shots that the circumstances doesn’t always deem necessary. He cited the example of the Southampton Test, where he twice got out to West Indies captain Jason Holder, shuffling to the off and attempting to play to the leg side the second time around.

It’s a shot Hussain believes Stokes doesn’t need to attempt too often, especially when England are on the ascendancy – Stokes’ dismissals in Southampton brought an end to partnerships of 67 and 98 runs respectively in each innings.

“Stokes’s value to the team is far higher than mere statistics, but with the technique and ability he has, he should average far more than 36 after 64 Tests,” Hussain wrote. “Ben could be tougher on himself. I don’t know if he gets bored and constantly wants to tinker, but I don’t know why he has introduced this little shot we saw at the Ageas Bowl where he shuffles across his off-stump.

“He is making up shots that he doesn’t need to play. I can understand Stokes manoeuvring the ball at Headingley [Ashes] last year when he had just Jack Leach for company, but when England are in the ascendancy and are at a pivotal moment in the game, there is no need for him to be unorthodox or inventive.

“Stokes went outside off stump in the Cape Town Test against South Africa in the new year, and got a leading edge. And twice in the first Test against West Indies, he again shuffled to off against the tourists’ captain Jason Holder and twice got out trying to play to leg. The second-innings dismissal came when England were getting on top.

“If they had got through to the close on the fourth day at the Ageas Bowl with Stokes and Ollie Pope at the crease, then they would not have lost the game. Ben is a very smart thinker about cricket and does work things out while he is at the crease. He is one of England’s most technically correct batsmen, if not the most correct.

“But he just does not need to make up shots and instead should have made Holder get him out rather than gifting him his wicket both times.”

The second Test of the three-match series begins in Manchester on Thursday.

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