English rookie Ben Stokes was surprised by the “nice guy” of the Australian team and expects both teams to show their “real competition” as soon as the Ashes rivalry begins on Thursday, August 1, in Edgbaston.
Since testing in Cape Town under the new leadership of Tim Paine and Aaron Finch, Australia has worked hard to be “more modest,” head coach Justin Langer said.
“We have to work hard to be more humble and concentrate on playing good cricket,” Langer had said earlier this month. “But also to be good people, I know there are some Englishmen who will laugh about it, but it’s true, we had to work hard.”
Stokes is one of the Englishmen who are surprised by this version of the Australians. “It’s strange that Australians are trying to be nice to you,” Stokes said before the first ash test. “I think as soon as you get off in the middle and cross the white line, the real competition of both teams will come out and Ashes is the biggest test series in the world.
“There is always something going on between the teams in the Ashes series, and I do not think that will be any different,” he continued. “Both teams really want to win, both groups of players really want to perform, because in Ashes series you are more often questioned and criticized or praised if you do well.”
Stokes believes the first morning of the test will be crucial. “I think on the first morning of a series, you want to show your authority as a team with a racket and a ball, so laying down a good start can lead to a smooth run throughout the series.
“They want the team to be at the top and win that first day, because hopefully it will stay that way in the next four days, so if you’re 1-0 down in a series, it can be hard to get back from there, and you want to start very well. ” Well.”
Australia’s opening fixture David Warner is a batsman England would like to get rid of early in the inning. “He’s a player who can take games away from you,” Stokes admitted. “He’s a phenomenal batsman and a very dangerous opener, captivating him and not letting him build his authority against us would be a big plus.”
Stokes, who missed the final Ashes series in Australia, who lost England 4-0, said that his team “desperately” wants to take back the urn, “because it’s not good that [Australia] has them”.
“We do not want to tell any of their batsmen,” he insisted. “We want to let them know that we’re here to be serious, and everyone in the dressing room is desperately trying to get that urn back because they do not like it.”
The 28-year-old has also been named vice-captain of his team and is ready to do whatever it takes to help his skipper Joe Root. “What I’ve always tried is taking little pressure from Joe’s shoulders in the past,” he said. “He’s the captain and his pressure is huge, he’s going up 50% in an ash series, there are other little things that can affect a captain mentally, so I can do anything to help him.”