England’s Ben Stokes has few fears before Carlos Brathwaite reunion
Plenty has happened to Ben Stokes since he was launched for four successive sixes by Carlos Brathwaite in the final of last year’s World Twenty20 and, speaking before his reunion with the West Indian all-rounder, he insisted that particular low is now firmly behind him.
At training on Wednesday afternoon Stokes smirked when the subject of the Kolkata mauling arose while, in the background, the 6ft 8in Brathwaite was putting on a repeat performance out in the middle of the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium during a range-hitting exercise.
“He’s still as big as he was back then,” said Stokes, as Brathwaite had people ducking for cover at the Sir Andy Roberts End of the ground. “We saw each other last night. I wouldn’t say I shook his hand – with the way they shake hands out here there’s about five different ways of doing it … but we caught up.”
Asked if their previous encounter had been expunged from his memory, the 25-year-old said: “Yes. You try and put good performances behind you as much as you put bad ones behind you. Success is great and you don’t want to start thinking too far ahead when you do well because it comes under the same bracket when things don’t go your way as well.”
Stokes is riding high after his recent promotion to the vice-captaincy of the Test team and millionaire status in the Indian Premier League auction – the latter being a subject he is yet to be fully comfortable discussing. Nevertheless, he believes it could further empower his cricket rather than add an extra level of pressure.
“I’ve had time to think about it and let it settle in now,” said Stokes. “I’m not going to rest on my laurels and slip off now. If anything, it gives me more drive to work even harder. You see success can get you things like this. And wanting to be successful for many more years to come will probably give me more motivation to work harder.”
If Stokes is being driven by his price tag, then the new West Indies head coach, Stuart Law, believes the driving force for Brathwaite is to become known for more than those evening fireworks last April.
“It was pretty awesome to watch [that final] and what was evident for me was his effortless power – he just defended balls for six,” said Law.
“I saw him hit two on to the roof here in practice the other day and he didn’t swing the bat in anger.
“But he’s a talent and more than just a basher. He’s got the technique to be a quality batsman and all-rounder. It’s not just about smashing the ball over the boundary.”
Law, who begins a two-year deal in charge of West Indies, misses out on a reunion of his own in this series. The 48-year-old was assistant to England’s head coach, Trevor Bayliss, during his time with Sri Lanka but his former mentor is not present after being granted down time in Australia to counter what remains a hectic international schedule.
In his absence Paul Farbrace is leading the group. On Tuesday Alex Hales arrived to continue getting match fit following a broken hand. There was positive news for Jake Ball, also, with scans on the his right knee showing nothing serious.