Ben Stokes: how England captain hopes to turn his traumas into triumphs
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Just under a week after the announcement was made that Ben Stokes would be the new face of England’s red ball cricket team, the Durham all-rounder took part in his first interview as captain.
England’s Ashes and World Cup hero has certainly been through the wringer since his international debut in 2013, but made it clear that he intends these past trials and tribulations to be turned into fulfilment and reassurance that he really does know what he’s talking about.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Stokes said: “These experiences are a positive in this new role I have got.
“I can relate to people whether that be good or bad or on the field or off the field…I don’t see anything I have gone through as a negative - if anything I see it as a way I can always try and help people.”
Stokes’ arrival on the England scene nine years ago was fairly innocuous, contributing what he could in an 5-0 Ashes whitewash defeat, ending the series as England’s third-highest run scorer and second-highest wicket taker.
The fiery all-rounder had previously made a name for himself on the England’s Lions tour in the same year, getting sent home along with Matt Coles for unprofessional conduct.
His reputation preceded him, with his actions on and off the field, and it all came to a head in 2017, when he was arrested outside a nightclub in Bristol after becoming involved in a fight.
Stokes was later cleared of affray, but the incident will forever tarnish his record. However, in the brief spell since Stokes took on his new responsibilities, he has already identified that these faults will be flipped and used as examples of his relatability.
While careful to not encourage others to act in a similar manner, Stokes does wish that his colourful past highlights can allow him to offer wisdom on all manner of issues that may arise within his team.
Often known for being the anchor of the team, it is also important to note those times where
Stokes was far from England’s saviour, times that could have eaten any athlete up inside, he chose to use as fuel for improvement.
The 2016 T20 World Cup is one such example. Many may wonder why Eoin Morgan would choose to put on a relatively expensive bowler in your final over, but he did and the team paid the consequences.
Stokes was hit for four magnificent sixes by Carlos Brathwaite in the last over and West Indies won the World Cup.
When asked about his darker moments, Stokes replied: “Back then, no, I’d have never pictured sitting at a table, speaking as England captain.
“I’ve always tried to see every experience, good or bad, as something to learn from.
“There’ve been plenty of other experiences as well that I could have felt chewed up, and that’s me done. I never let that happen. I guess I’m too stubborn to let anything get on top of me.”
Well, he most certainly didn’t let it get on top of him, going on to save England’s final in the 2019 World Cup as well as rescue the Test side from the brink of an Ashes defeat in the same year at Headingley - three years after his infamous over in Kolkata.
There will inevitably be a split between England fans who believe that Stokes’ ghosts will be too much to contend with alongside the responsibility of leading his country on the field.
Stokes is hopeful of convincing these sceptics that his experience of turning tragedies into triumphs is actually the precise trait England need coming off the back of one win in 17 Test matches.
In fact, his ability to overturn devestations will expectantly flow through the rest of his squad who are in desperate need of a shift in attitude.
England’s new skipper could take these past 17 losses and, while appreciating that miracles do not happen overnight, feasibly return the side to the top of the world Test rankings - a girl can dream, right?