England captain Ben Stokes attends a training session at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London ahead of their Test match against Ireland.
London: England captain Ben Stokes claimed he had no concerns about the future of Test cricket as his team prepares to face archrival Australia in the Ashes series.
England’s home red-ball season begins Thursday with a single four-day Test against Ireland at Lord’s.
Except for showpiece series like the five-match Ashes series starting next month, there has long been worry about franchise Twenty20 cricket squeezing out the traditional long-format game.
These concerns were heightened when Ireland left young talent Josh Little out of their team for this week’s match. The fast bowler took a break following a successful Indian Premier League season with the runners-up Gujarat Titans and before a 50-over World Cup qualification event in Zimbabwe.
The Lord’s Test, according to Cricket Ireland’s high performance director Richard Holdsworth, was not a “pinnacle event” for his team this season.
Stokes, a World Cup champion for England in both 50-over and T20 cricket, as well as a Test regular, was empathetic.
“I’ve always been a huge advocate of the Test format,” the 31-year-old all-rounder told reporters at Lord’s on Wednesday. The entire environment and game of cricket are practically shifting right in front of everyone’s eyes.”
“Look at what T20 has done for the game in general, the level of interest it’s attracted – new fans, new players into playing cricket regardless of format – and also what T20 has been able to deliver in terms of Test cricket…So, I don’t envision a future in which T20 and Test cricket aren’t played.”
“I don’t know what this build-up period before the Ashes is like compared to 2005 (when England won a classic series), no idea,” he said, “but it’s very difficult to ignore and not see the excitement.”
Since Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum were hired in May last year, England has won 10 of their 12 Tests, with their aggressive approach nicknamed ‘Bazball’ after former New Zealand captain McCullum’s moniker.
A tenet of the current government has been to resist putting limitations on what is possible, with England flipping conventional Test thinking on its head by amassing a remarkable 506-4 on the opening day of a 3-0 series triumph in Pakistan in December.
When asked if a 500-run day against a proven Australia attack was feasible in the Ashes, Stokes answered, “Be alright, wouldn’t it?” “I believe that anything is possible if you have the support to go out and do it.”
“I think what we’ve seen over the last year is that the same players who have been playing for a while have gone a lot higher in terms of their potential and realising they might be better than they thought they were,” he continued. “I believe it is entirely due to the mindset shift.”