Cape Town - Ben Stokes is determined to help England climb the ICC Rankings in Test cricket and admits they’ve "slacked off" in the last two years.
Speaking to the UK’s Guardian newspaper, Stokes, who is currently playing for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, says he was "gutted" by the team’s Ashes defeat, even though he was watching from afar.
"I lived every moment of the Ashes," he said.
"I’m sure it was nowhere near the emotions of the guys out there but I was just as gutted."
Stokes missed the entirety of the series in Australia due to the fallout from the incident in Bristol in September which has since seen him and two other men plead not guilty to affray.
Since then Stokes, whose trial is scheduled to begin on August 6, has been reintroduced to the England team for their tour of New Zealand, where a collapse to 58 all out in Auckland was a particularly low point in a trying winter.
"It’s all about what I’m going to do in the future. I just want to get us back to playing the way we want to play. We were so close to being one of the best teams in the world. We’ve slacked off in the past two years but knowing how close we were gives you that desire to get back there."
England lost 4-0 in Australia and 1-0 to New Zealand and currently sit fifth in the Test rankings. They will play Pakistan and India during the English summer.
One side-effect of Stokes’ absence from the England team has been his removal as vice-captain – a role he had enjoyed prior to the incident in Bristol. But the all-rounder says he is not bothered by the snub and that he does not harbour resentment towards captain Joe Root or coach Trevor Bayliss.
"They just said they wanted to stick with Jimmy [Anderson]," Stokes said.
"But regardless, I know my role and it won’t change how I go about things. It won’t be in the back of my mind and I won’t hold it against anyone."