London - Former captain Andrew Flintoff believes Ben Stokes can become one
of England's greats and rates the all-rounder as a more talented player than he
Flintoff played a major role in England's Ashes success in 2005 - their
first for 18 years - when his 24 wickets and 402 runs drew comparisons with Ian
Botham, one of the world's all-time great all-rounders.
The 37-year-old told the BBC that the New Zealand-born Stokes has shown more
talent than him since his Test debut in Australia 18 months ago.
"I was a pretty unskilful cricketer," said Flintoff, who was
forced into retirement by a knee injury in 2009 after 79 tests and 141
one-dayers. "I survived a lot on bravado and trying to use my size.
"It's always hard when people get compared but I think Stokes should
set his standards a little bit higher rather than think about me.
"I think Stokes has a lot more skill. He could be one of England's
Flintoff took 226 test wickets and also scored 3845 runs, including five
Stokes made 92 and 101 in the first Test against New Zealand at Lord's,
which England won by 124 runs, and also took three wickets in the second
innings to be adjudged man-of the-match.
He is expected to be a key player for the hosts in the forthcoming Ashes
series, which begins with the first test in Cardiff on July 8.
Flintoff is optimistic about England's prospects, despite the side being
whitewashed 5-0 in Australia in 2013-14.
"You look at it on paper," he said. "The captain (Alastair Cook)
is scoring runs, you have Ian Bell with 20-odd hundreds, Joe Root's brilliant,
Gary Ballance averages 50-odd, Adam Lyth has just scored a 100 and then you've
got an all-rounder (Stokes).
"Bowling wise, you've got Jimmy Anderson with 400 wickets, Stuart Broad
"The one area which I think they'll be looking at is the spin
department. But that's the only one area where they might be a bit weak. Apart
from that, they're a good team."