Stubborn Stokes insists this is still England’s World Cup
All-Rounder Ben Stokes promised England fans his team-mates would not take a backward step as they soak up the disappointment of losing to their great rivals Australia at Lord’s.
- Another super innings but England all-rounder finds himself on wrong side of result again
- We’re going to stick with the formula that made us world beaters, he insists
Stokes played a noble hand with the world’s No.1 team under the cosh but his 89, carved out while he was suffering from cramp, was not enough to stop the world champions winning this key match by 64 runs.
And that puts the hosts in a precarious position following their third defeat with just two group matches left, matches against in-form India and New Zealand where there is little margin for error.
Yet Stokes, who produced a superb 115-ball knock featuring two sixes and eight fours, offered a rallying cry when asked if he had a message for worried fans.
“This is our World Cup,” he said. “We've had great support over the last four years and we know how much the World Cup means to fans and we know that as players as well.
“It's one of the biggest times and greatest times to be a cricketer, which is to represent your country at a World Cup.
"But we are not going to take a backwards step and, as I've said, this is our World Cup and we are going to go about it how we want to.”
The all-rounder was adamant that there was ‘nothing to worry about’ regarding his fitness after hobbling through much of his innings and he was insistent that he would be ready for the match against India at Edgbaston on Sunday, which now has a ‘must-win’ look about it.
Stokes, who has been on the losing side twice in succession despite innings of 82 not out against Sri Lanka and now his 89, conceded: “I think it's just disappointing, losing. Everyone tries to go out there and play knocks to get over the line for the team.
"But normally we have two or three guys in the order who can do that. We have to really dig deep in these last couple of games here, not go back on how we know we play well.
“Look, everybody's obviously disappointed in the last two games but, you know, this is our World Cup and we are going to go about it the way we know how we play best.
"I think that's our mindset, that's what's made us so successful in the last four years. Back-to-back losses can sometimes make you as a team think differently, but we are not going to go away from our method of playing.
“We just need to adjust to situations and then conditions, but we are not for one minute going to take a backward step, especially in these last two (group) games.
"It always feels nice getting runs and stuff like that, but it counts for nothing when you can't get over the line."
England - who hadn’t lost back-to-back ODIs on home soil since 2015 - still have hopes in their own hands but asked if Sunday’s match felt like a final, Stokes was dialling down the pressure.
He added: “I think we just need to take these last two games as they come. It could be completely different conditions to what we faced here. We know what we are going to do going in with our plans and then it's all about adjusting once the game starts.
"We've got a great record against India in England, but we'll just have to wait and see what conditions we’re faced with, but they are another team who are in good form, so hopefully we can bring our best game."
Once again, England certainly missed their injured opener Jason Roy but Stokes offered support for replacement James Vince, who suffered a second ball duck, following previous innings of 14 and 26.
“Obviously, losing a player of Jason's class and form, it is tough. But the back-up batsmen we have, in terms of James Vince coming in, he is a phenomenal player,” he said.
Sometimes, though, you just have to tip your hat to a world-class bowler. After Mitchell Starc’s beauty to end his innings, Stokes said ruefully: “It was a good ball, yeah, a 90mph reverse-swing yorker…”