Ben Stokes insists his aggressive approach can yet secure a series win over Australia despite England’s dramatic two-wicket defeat in the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
An unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 55 between Australia captain Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon on Tuesday’s final day proved decisive in a see-saw contest as the tourists chased down a target of 281.
This was just England’s third defeat in 14 Tests since captain Stokes joined forces with coach Brendon McCullum last year.
The duo’s policy of all-out attack, dubbed ‘Bazball’ in honour of McCullum’s nickname, came after a run of just one win in 17 Tests under former England skipper Joe Root.
England signalled their intentions right from the start at Edgbaston, with Zak Crawley driving the first ball of the match for four.
And with England bidding for a first Ashes series win since 2015, Stokes had no qualms about his approach.
“I am devastated we’ve lost that game but in terms of what it’s done for the series, it’s hard to not be too disappointed because it has set up a great series,” he said. “It’s not a psychological blow at all.
“We’ve lost but if you look at the way we’ve played, compared to how the last few Ashes series have gone, it proves what we’re capable of doing against Australia.
“Losing sucks but the way we applied ourselves literally from ball one proves we’re able to stand up to Australia … We’ve got four games left and that’s what we’re going to be concentrating on.”
All-rounder Stokes defied convention by declaring on the opening day with England 393-8 in their first innings after Root’s first Ashes hundred in eight years.
England, however, might still have won had they taken all their chances and a few batsmen pressed on in a second innings where there were several scores in the 40s but no major contribution.
An unapologetic Stokes said of his declaration: “I’m a captain who saw it as an opportunity to pounce on Australia. The way in which we played and took Australia on actually allowed us to be able to do that.
“If we didn’t declare, would we have got that excitement like we did at the end? I’m not 100% sure but I’m not going to be looking back at this game as what ifs. We just didn’t manage to get over the line.”
© Agence France-Presse