Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting believes English rookie Ben Stokes could have a decisive impact on the five-test Ashes series starting in Edgbaston on 1 August.
Stokes has been one of England’s most influential cricketers lately. As one of the best all-rounders in modern cricket, Stokes showed his class on the biggest stage and scored the decisive results of his career in the final of the 2019 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, when England claimed the trophy for the first time.
Now, as the team prepares for the next challenge in the form of Australia’s oldest cricket rivalry, Ponting, one of the most successful captains, believes that Australia must limit the Allrounder’s impact if it wants to improve its recent record on English soil.
“It seems he’s playing with a lot of maturity,” Ponting told cricket.com.au. “He does not seem to be in a great hurry, as he might have been, and also in his personality: He’s a big, strong, cocky guy with a certain ego, and I think he’s a younger guy, probably everything was in full swing – a speed.
“For me [during the World Cup] it seems like he could understand situations and play accordingly, that’s a bit mature, understands his own game and understands what his team demands of him.”
Ponting praised the all-rounder’s ball-punching skills, which he said are in no way inferior to the best.
“He’s a very, very good player,” he said. “Some of the innings I’ve seen at Test Cricket have been as good as we’ve ever seen from the best batsmen in the world, he can back it up with the ball and if he is not.” I will be very surprised by the best field players in the world right now. “
Ponting was Australia’s captain when Michael Vaughans England triumphed 2-1 in the historic 2005 series – England’s first win in nearly two decades. England’s star performer at that time was Andrew Flintoff, who stood out with his aggressive mindset and his all-round skills in difficult moments. Ponting saw in Stokes a similar element of the X-factor, which in his opinion is “England’s heartbeat”.
“He’s a key man and more of a key man, because I think he’s the real heartbeat for her team, a bit like the series ‘Freddie’ Flintoff in Ashes, which is over – if they were in trouble and needed something, they tend to go to these people, and Australia has to calm it down if we want to win the series.
“I think it’s important that the Australian players do not get him into shape at the start of the series, there are certain players that you know you’ll hopefully get to the top early, Stokes is one I think you must make sure that he does not move away from them and has no major impact on the series.
“His test record has not been very good lately, he’ll know, he’ll understand, and it’s up to the Australian guys to make sure he does not dominate the show.”