England v South Africa: Ben Stokes looking to cap 'great summer' at The Oval

by Sourav Das
4 minutes read
Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes was appointed England Test captain at the beginning of the summer
England v South Africa, third LV Insurance Test
Venue: The Kia Oval Dates: 8-12 September Start time: 11:00 BST
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Radio 4 LW, and BBC Sport website & app. Live text commentary & in-play clips on BBC Sport website & app

Captain Ben Stokes says England can round off a “great summer” with a series-clinching victory over South Africa in the final Test at The Oval.

England have won five of their six Tests under Stokes and new coach Brendon McCullum.

Only once before have they won six or more Tests in a home summer – the seven wins under Michael Vaughan in 2004.

“Even if you take away results, the way we have played the game has been the most satisfying thing,” said Stokes.

“We’ve changed the way in which England’s Test cricket is viewed. We’ve captured the imagination of fans of cricket that have been around for years, and I feel like we might have gained some new fans as well.”

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England beat New Zealand 3-0 in June, then won the rescheduled fifth Test against India.

They were beaten by an innings inside three days by South Africa at Lord’s, but reversed that result to win the second Test at Old Trafford, also by an innings margin.

“Coming into the last game of the summer, both teams want to win the series, it will provide that winning mentality from both sides,” all-rounder Stokes told BBC Sport.

“All the situations will boil down to how can victory come for both sides, which is good for the game.”

Stokes confirmed that Yorkshire batter Harry Brook, 23, will make his Test debut in place of Jonny Bairstow, who is likely to miss the rest of the year after suffering a broken leg slipping whilst playing golf on Friday.

“I’m devastated for Jonny with the summer he’s had and the T20 World Cup coming up,” said Stokes.

“It’s really unfortunate timing but he can be really proud of what he’s achieved this summer. He’s been the catalyst of the revival and he should definitely hold his head high.”

Yorkshire’s Brook, who has played four T20s for England, has been in every Test squad this summer without playing a game.

The right-hander averages 36 in first-class cricket and made 140 for England Lions against South Africa in a warm-up match for the Test series.

“Hopefully he can take the opportunity with both hands and put even more pressure on the batting line-up,” said Stokes.

“The style he goes about things is exactly what we want in that middle order. Jonny has set the tone, style and manner in which the middle order likes to play. I think we get a like-for-like replacement with the aggressive intent, the positive way Harry wants to show off his skills.”

When asked about Brook’s innings in the Lions game, South Africa captain Dean Elgar said: “This is Test cricket. This is the big league now.

“You can bat like that in a four-day game or a County Championship game, but in Test cricket there are a lot of things that can put a stop to you – the cameras or the crowd.”

South Africa are without Rassie van der Dussen after the batter suffered a broken finger in the second Test. Ryan Rickelton comes in to the side to win his third cap.

Elgar said the Proteas will make “one or two” other changes to their side, but the situation is complicated by the wet weather forecast.

“There is definitely going to be a winner,” said Elgar. “This is a World Cup final for us.”

Stokes also said England are open to altering their tactics if rain leaves them short of time to force a result.

“With the weather about, if we do lose a few days, I know what I’ll be trying to do,” he said.

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