Chittagong - He might feel entitled to a breather after a
back-breaking effort in his team's latest Test triumph but England's 'X-factor'
Ben Stokes said he'd rather be dropped than rested during a marathon tour of
The lion-hearted Stokes was named man of the match on Monday
for his starring role in England's nail-biting first Test win over Bangladesh
in which he scored a crucial half century and took six wickets.
After batting for more than three hours while making 85 on
Saturday, Stokes then bowled superbly in Bangladesh's second innings and
finished the match with six wickets in temperatures hitting 32 degrees celsius.
Stokes began the year by scoring a career best 258 in a Test
against South Africa but after England's dramatic 22-run victory in Chittagong,
the Durham player classed it as his most complete performance so far.
"Overall, I think it is," the 25-year-old replied
when asked if he thought it was the most satisfying match.
Stokes said he was particularly pleased with having improved
his technique against the spinners, saying he had always been able to
"take the aggressive route" but had now given himself more options.
Stokes said he had been putting in the hours, "making
sure that my defence is tight and still having options to be able to rotate the
strike when they do bowl the ball in a good area".
He had also been working on his concentration levels so
"that I'm switched on enough that if there is a bad ball to come along - because there aren't going to be many - I still put it away for four or
Stokes' career has been interrupted by several injuries and
the selectors will be desperate that he remains fit throughout the winter in
which England will play a total of seven Tests, including five against India.
Stokes was also the vice-captain in a preceding ODI series
against Bangladesh while England are due to play six further limited overs
internationals against India early in the new year.
The workload means that England selectors could well be
tempted to give Stokes a rest in one or two Tests, especially if they are dead
rubbers - but he made clear that he would reject any such overtures.
"I'll play all seven (Tests) if I still get picked, I'd
rather get dropped," he said.
England skipper Alastair Cook said Stokes was absolutely
crucial to his team's prospects.
"I say it every single time we speak about him, the guy
is that x-factor cricketer which every side would love to have," said Cook.
"He balances our side, he gives us options, he allows
us to play the extra seamer here or an extra spinner, whichever way you look at
Cook also praised Stokes for his improvement against the
spinners, which was highlighted by his maiden ODI century in Dhaka earlier this
"The one thing he has done over the last year is
improve his method against spin," said Cook.
"I don't want to say I'm surprised but it surprised me
how well he scored that hundred and... it just showed what a lot of hard work
can do and he can take a lot of credit for that."