Ben Stokes’s may have not been in the best of form lately, but he will have a crucial part to play for England if they are to lift their first-ever 50 over World Cup trophy. Despite the all-rounder’s ordinary performances with the bat in Indian Premier Leauge (IPL) 2019 for Rajasthan Royals (RR), former England captain Andrew Flintoff backed him to bat at any position.
“With Ben he’s just different. As a batter, he can bat three, he can bat four — his bowling’s getting better all the time,” he told reporters in London.
Stokes’ confidence was dented when he was hit for four sixes by Windies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite in the final of T20 World Cup 2016 at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. But, Flintoff did not seem concerned about it.
“The World T20 probably knocked his confidence a little bit. That can happen, bowling at the death/ He’s always in the big moments of a game. He seems to be that lad who lifts the team.” he said.
Former England captain Flintoff said he could relate with Stokes’ frame of mind after the Bristol night club brawl in which he was exonerated.
“I think since what happened the year before last, it’s always hard sometimes. You’ve just got to find your feet again. You’re playing for the team but you’re also playing a little bit for acceptance as well — for the crowd, for the people coming to watch you,” the 41-year-old said.
“I think he has come through the other side and I think we’re about to see the best of Ben Stokes. Or I hope so, because I genuinely love watching him,” he added.
Flintoff’s all-round show in Ashes 2005 helped England regain the urn on home soil. Similarly, the former all-rounder believes that Stokes will have a big role to play in Ashes 2019 as well.
“World Cup, Ashes — it’s all to play for. As a character and player like Ben, you wouldn’t be surprised if he just steals the show. We can (then) all forget about 2005 and move on with ourselves!” he said.
Favourites ahead of the tournament, England will depend on Stokes’ services with bat and ball to dominate the tournament starting May 30.