Key: Stokes gives England ‘good dilemma’


Last Updated: 10/07/20 8:40pm

Ben Stokes was the pick of the England bowlers on day three at the Ageas Bowl

Ben Stokes was the pick of the England bowlers on day three at the Ageas Bowl

Ben Stokes was the pick of the England bowlers on day three at the Ageas Bowl

Ben Stokes was the pick of the England bowlers on day three of the first #raisethebat Test and the all-rounder continues to give his side a “good dilemma”, according to Rob Key.

The West Indies established a crucial first-innings lead of 114 at the Ageas Bowl but the situation could have been far worse for England had it not been for the stand-in skipper’s 4-49.

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Watch highlights from day three of the first Test between England and the West Indies, as the tourists built a healthy first-innings lead.

Watch highlights from day three of the first Test between England and the West Indies, as the tourists built a healthy first-innings lead.

Stokes also top-scored with the bat for the home side and given his importance to the team in all facets of the game, managing his workload remains a challenge.

“This is the real dilemma really, how much do you use him with the ball?” Sky Sports pundit Key said. “He put in a match-winning performance with the ball at Newlands.

“That was one of the flattest pitches of that winter tour (to South Africa), it was a crucial game and on the last day, who do you turn to? Ben Stokes. He bowled 90mph on a dead pitch and won the game for England. But you don’t want to over-bowl him.

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Stokes bowled Alzarri Joseph to claim his 150th Test wicket

Stokes bowled Alzarri Joseph to claim his 150th Test wicket

“He is an awkward customer because he is quicker than you think, he can be around 90mph. You think he’s going to bump you but then he’s got a good wrist as well and can bowl in-swingers and he can get the ball to go out too – he’s such a skilful bowler.

“It’s a good dilemma to have, how much do you use him? Even in this game when he is captain himself, as well as Dom Bess bowled – I thought he beautifully on this pitch that wasn’t offering assistance – Stokes still went to Bess before he gave himself a proper spell.

“Whereas if I were batting, if anyone is batting, who do you not want to face? Well, I don’t want to face Ben Stokes. How he uses himself and how Joe Root uses him is going to be interesting from now on.”

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With the spread of coronavirus leading to a more condensed schedule, ensuring Stokes is not overworked could be even more of a challenge for England this summer.

By September 1, England will have played six Tests in seven weeks as well as a three-match ODI series against Ireland and three T20 internationals against Pakistan.

Key believes England will prioritise red-ball cricket and, as such, Stokes’ breaks come could during the limited-overs series.

“I almost get the feeling that this summer it is about Test cricket,” he said.

Virat Kohli might be the best batsman in the world but is Stokes the best all-round player? Virat Kohli might be the best batsman in the world but is Stokes the best all-round player?

Virat Kohli might be the best batsman in the world but is Stokes the best all-round player?

“I know the one-day series are going to be important but there is no World Cup coming up in the 50-over game, I know there will be a T20 World Cup at some stage but that is only four overs bowling.

“I’d like to see Ben Stokes, as the best cricketer in the world – people can say Virat Kohli, no he is a batsman and might be the best batsman in the world – I’d like to see him bowling but it is just a matter of how much.”

Watch day four of the first #raisethebat Test between England and West Indies live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.30am on Saturday.

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