Ben Stokes goes into Tuesday’s third one-day international against Australia at Old Trafford with praise from England’s head coach, Trevor Bayliss, for his reaction to his controversial dismissal at Lord’s and under consideration for the vice-captaincy.
The all-rounder, who could earn the promotion in the absence of the rested wicketkeeper and regular No2, Jos Buttler, has given his version of the events in the 64-run defeat that leaves Eoin Morgan’s side 2-0 down with three to play.
Given out for “obstructing the field” after an outstretched hand deflected a run-out attempt from Mitchell Starc on Saturday, Stokes claims he was acting instinctively and in self-defence and therefore, by the wording of Law 37, should have batted on.
“A guy was standing there five feet away from me and it was just a complete reaction,” he told ESPNcricinfo. “I didn’t put my hand there wilfully, it was purely a human reaction to protect myself. The decision was made, there’s nothing I can do but it wasn’t wilful whatsoever. It’s one of those decisions where you can’t look back and have any regrets because it’s been made. You can’t change what’s happened. It’s just a shame it came to the uproar it has.”
For Bayliss, who is aware of the fiery reputation Stokes developed after breaking a hand when punching a locker in the Caribbean last year, this attitude – and his reaction in the immediate aftermath – shows how the 24-year-old is developing.
“I thought Stokesy handled it very well,” the Australian said. “He was obviously disappointed when he got out but in the changing room after the game he was very philosophical about it – ‘That’s the game, I’ve got to get on with it.’
“From what I have heard of Stokesy before, it could have been worse but he is certainly making strides. He is growing up not just as a cricketer but as a person.”
Stokes has been singled out for attention by opposition in the past – his send-off from the West Indian batsman Marlon Samuels earlier this year being an example – but Bayliss says he is learning to cope with it.
He added: “With guys like that there is special attention from the opposition as well to try to get those emotions out of them and certainly that is something he is beginning to learn and he has got to take it on the chin and get on with it. I thought he did that pretty well the other day and I said ‘Well done’ to him as we were leaving.”