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Ben Stokes’ ’99, 100, 101′ comment before 100th Test is the biggest advert of Bazball and worry for India

Ben Stokes is unphased by all the buzz around his 100th Test and it is biggest advert of Bazball and a worrying sign for India ahead of 3rd Test in Rajkot.

Ben Stokes will don the England whites for the 100th time when his side takes on India in the all-important third Test match at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot. It’s a milestone to cherish. Only 15 England cricketers have achieved the same in the history of the game. The 32-year-old England captain will join an elite club, including current internationals James Anderson and Joe Root when he leads the tourists out on Thursday.

India’s captain Rohit Sharma and England’s captain Ben Stokes (L) shake hands(AFP)

To sum up Stokes’ achievement on the cricket field, England batter Ollie Pope said the all-rounder has changed the game in a lot of aspects. “He has probably changed the game in a lot of respects, he has just got a way of bringing out the very best of him when the team needs it. Even in the Ashes at Lord’s, which I remember thinking about ‘how does he obviously take it to a new level when all the pressure is on him’,” Pope said.

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The right-hander is not overestimating things. Stokes, who has carved a niche for himself by playing some of the most outstanding knocks in the history of the sport in high-pressure situations, has also produced a fine example of himself as a leader by inventing a new approach to Test cricket known as ‘Bazball’.

Rajkot is a long way away from Durham, where Stokes plays his domestic cricket in the English county but the excitement and the buzz around the England captain’s 100th Test is another giveaway of the impact he has had on the game.

100th Test is ‘just a number’ for Ben Stokes

Stokes, however, is unphased by all this. A man who puts the team’s interest above anything else, quite expectedly described his 100th Test as just a number. He obviously didn’t wanna sound “ungrateful” for the opportunities he has got but he is focussed on the more important task on hand – that is to take the lead back again in the five-match series which is currently locked 1-1.

“It’s just a number,” Stokes said. ‘Every Test is just as important as the next one. It doesn’t make much difference – 99, 100, 101. I guess it’s a sign of longevity. I don’t want it to sound like I’m not grateful for the opportunities I’ve had. But the way to look at milestones is it’s not done until it’s done.”

Stokes talked about his early days in the England dressing room when Alastair Cook was the skipper and Andy Flower the head coach. “I was young and just taking it all in,’ said Stokes. “Every dressing room is different and back then the way it was led was more authentic to the guys in charge, Cooky and Andy Flower. That’s the good thing about leadership. If you’re loyal to how you want to be that’s a great thing. Do it in a way that is true to yourself.”

The last time an India and England Test match took place at the same venue in 2016, six centuries were scored and England, despite being in a commanding position in the series opener, failed to press for a win. The Test match ended in a draw and in the next four Tests, England were outclassed by a superior Indian side.

Stokes doesn’t want to repeat the same mistake. He hates losing but considers it better than settling for a draw with a defensive mindset.

“I remember coming off the field thinking ‘we’ve got them’ … and then we lost four-nil. In those situations, you’ve got to risk something if you want to get something. I don’t get much pleasure out of a draw. I’d much rather lose trying to win it,” he said.


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