England set ‘benchmark’ against South Africa as skipper Ben Stokes encourages ‘positive mindset’

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Ben Stokes also heaped praise on opener Zak Crawley after his important knock during England’s sole innings; Watch day one of the third Test between England and South Africa, from The Kia Oval, live on Sky Sports Cricket from Thursday, September 8.

Last Updated: 28/08/22 12:22pm

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Ben Stokes gives his reaction after seeing England beat South Africa by an innings and 85 runs

Ben Stokes gives his reaction after seeing England beat South Africa by an innings and 85 runs

Ben Stokes hailed a ‘benchmark’ performance from England as they responded to defeat at Lord’s with a dominant three-day win over South Africa in Manchester.

The skipper was at the heart of all Brendon McCullum’s side did well as he set the tone at the crease with a clinical century while collecting four wickets across the contest to help the hosts level the series.

“To come back from last week’s disappointment at Lord’s to put in the performance we have this week, it obviously gives us a lot of confidence back and sets the series up nicely for the last game at the Oval,” said Stokes.

“We completely forgot about that performance [at Lord’s]. The way we batted, bowled and fielded in this game was the benchmark of the standards we set.”

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All the best moments from day three of the second Test between England and South Africa at Emirates Old Trafford

All the best moments from day three of the second Test between England and South Africa at Emirates Old Trafford

Stokes’ display with the bat encapsulated all he and McCullum have sought to instill since stepping into their leadership roles, blending aggression with control and smart striking to blunt South Africa’s attack. He went for 103 after a decisive partnership with Ben Foakes, who also chalked up a long-awaited Test century with 113 not out.

“It was adapting to the pitch more than anything, it was one of those wickets I feel like you couldn’t really hit through the line of it,” said Stokes.

“Still having that positive mindset and intent to score makes everything easier. I’ve always found starting an innings against reverse swing is always the toughest.

“Because I was looking to go at the ball and be positive it was actually easier. That’s something we’ve learned as a team this week.

“When you have that intent and positive mindset to go out and score it can make it easier.”

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James Anderson joins Ian Ward to discuss England’s win over South Africa in the second Test, praising the workload of Ben Stokes.

James Anderson joins Ian Ward to discuss England’s win over South Africa in the second Test, praising the workload of Ben Stokes.

Stokes joked afterwards it should have been Foakes rather than himself being awarded player of the match such was the wicketkeeper’s impact in the middle.

He meanwhile spared praise for the contributions of Zak Crawley, who dug deep to survive a tough evening session and keep England ticking on day two with a stern knock of 38 amid his own efforts to establish himself as a long-term feature at the top of the order.

“The way in which he [Crawley] applied himself was incredible, especially at the top of the innings to do that against this attack and obviously the way the new ball played on that wicket, it definitely was a new ball wicket,” said Stokes.

“Even against the older ball, the reverse swing, the way he applied himself, the relentlessness in his decision-making was incredible and he really set me and Foaksey up to go out and play like that.

“I think you’re right, I think it might get overlooked and it shouldn’t be because that was a real match-defining innings at the top of the order for us.”

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Michael Atherton was encouraged by Zak Crawley’s batting as the under-pressure opener ground his way to 38

Michael Atherton was encouraged by Zak Crawley’s batting as the under-pressure opener ground his way to 38

South Africa captain Dean Elgar admitted his side were made to pay for a torrid first innings that saw the visitors dismissed for 151, but insisted he had no regrets over the decision to include two spinners or to remove Anrich Nortje from the attack for large periods of the second session on Friday.

“I thought we had a plan coming here knowing it would be a little drier, team selection was bat first and take it on,” said Elgar. “First innings are important in Test cricket, trying to set up the game later on and knowing the wicket might crumble like it started showing signs of.

“I don’t regret any decisions made prior to the game. Obviously the first innings let us down massively.

“I think there are a lot of learnings out of this. We’ve got quite a few days before the next Test so I’m sure we’ll go back to the drawing board.”

He almost confirmed that Rassie van der Dussen is likely to miss the third Test after suffering a fractured finger.

Watch day one of the third LV= Insurance Test between England and South Africa, from The Kia Oval, live on Sky Sports Cricket from Thursday, September 8. Build-up starts at 10am ahead of the first ball at 11am.

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