Eoin Morgan has poured cold water on the idea of Ben Stokes moving into the top three for England in T20Is, despite the all-rounder’s incendiary form at No.3 in ODI cricket.
Stokes has served a finishing role for England in the shortest format in recent times with middling results. While his 23-ball 46 in the fourth T20I against India last month provided the clearest evidence yet that he could be getting to grips with the requirements of a middle-order role, but his struggle to 24 off 21 in the second game showed the issues he can have trying to start quickly.
Stokes, as many of England’s players do, has a much better record at the top of the order than elsewhere, and is likely to open for Rajasthan Royals in the upcoming Indian Premier League. He also provided a clear example of the benefits of giving him time to get set before asking him to explode in the second ODI against India, racing from 50 to 99 in 11 balls in an incredible six-hitting spree.
However, Morgan explained on the Sky Cricket Show that England aren’t considering a promotion for Stokes, backing him instead to improve in the role in which he is currently assigned.
“[Stokes’ role] is flexible in the fact that he can bat at four, five, six,” Morgan said. “We have so many guys that can bat in the top three. It’s not an area of concern at the moment. I think it’s actually one of our strongest suits. Ben is just such a fantastic player that he will always continue to ask how to get better and how to improve, and he will naturally evolve into this unbeatable superstar over the course of his career.”
Morgan acknowledged the need to get the most out of Stokes, but also pointed out that England wanted to spread their best players through their order.
“I suppose, when you look at it from the outside, or even playing with Ben, you do always ask yourself the question what is the best position to bat, place to bowl, position to field, because he can have an impact on the game at any given stage,” he said. “We’ve had questions like that over Jos at times, where he is to bat and his role, but ultimately within the game you need a strong top six. You don’t win matches in the first 10 overs, you win them in the next 10. So yes, your top order if a guy is in and going past the first 10 overs, you’re at a huge advantage in winning the game statistically, and having a strong lower or middle order to back that up is massive.”
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