Stokes the 'heart and soul' of England – Bayliss

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Butcher: Stokes would put his hand up again

England coach Trevor Bayliss has backed Ben Stokes to bounce back from the pain of being taken for four sixes by Carlos Brathwaite in the final over the World T20 final, and said he is the “heart and soul” of the England team.

Stokes, who had become a key figure in the death overs for England during the World T20 as he delivered telling spells against Sri Lanka and New Zealand, had 19 runs to defend when he faced up to Brathwaite. However, four balls later the title was West Indies’ after each of the deliveries was dispatched into the Kolkata stands.

Stokes was left distraught and, before hauling himself to the crease for what became the final delivery, he sank to his knees when Brathwaite had levelled the scores. A few hours later he tweeted his thanks for the support he had received and the morning after Brathwaite himself offered some consoling words. As England flew out of India, Paul Collingwood posted a photo of him alongside a relaxed Stokes on the plane.

Over the last 12 months, the form of Stokes has become central to England’s success with key match-winning performances against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa before the World T20. Bayliss is in no doubt that he would front up to a similar final-over situation again.

“He is one of those blokes – if we had a game tomorrow, he’d put his hand up to bowl the last over again,” he said. “No one is blaming Stokesy for anything. To be honest, he is the heart and soul of this team.

“If everyone put in half as much as Stokesy does, we’d go a long way. You can’t fault Ben’s leadership in the team or the effort he puts in. It doesn’t matter whether he is batting, bowling or fielding, he gives you 100% until there’s nothing in the tank. The more of those type of cricketers we can produce, the better for England cricket.”

The closing stages of the tournament brought Stokes face-to-face with Marlon Samuels to reignite a tempestuous relationship which began a year ago on England’s tour of the West Indies, where Samuels saluted Stokes off the field after a dismissal in the Grenada Test.

Samuels was fined 30% of his match fee for using foul language towards Stokes during the final over and in the press conference further fanned the flames by saying that Stokes “doesn’t learn” about how engaging with him provides motivation.

“They keep telling him when he plays against me, do not speak to me because I’m going to perform,” Samuels said. “I didn’t even face a ball and he had so much to say to me that I know I had to be right there at the end, again.”

However, Bayliss will not be attempting to change Stokes’ on-field persona and believes it goes hand-in-hand with what makes him such a valuable player.

“Ben’s one of those players that feeds off that. Some players sometimes say things and they can’t really back it up. But Stokesy is one of those players… that’s what turns him on, that’s what gets his juices flowing and makes him as good as he is.

“He’s not the only one around the world. There are a number of other players who do the same thing – almost create their own controversy, or whatever you want to call it, to psyche themselves up and get their head in the game. It brings the best out of him.”

On the tournament overall, and while wanting to give the chance for the dust to settle, Bayliss believed that England will find regular success if they continue playing in the style they have done since the start of the last English season.

“Obviously the final was disappointing but I’m extremely proud of the way they played through this last few weeks,” he said. “As long as we keep playing good cricket and someone has to do something remarkable to beat us, we’ll win a lot of games.”

England’s next assignment is back in the Test format when a three-Test series against Sri Lanka starts on May 19. Most of the players will return to action with their counties over the next couple of weeks.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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