Skip to content
en-gb GO TO bet365 Sports
  1. Cricket
  2. International Cricket

Exclusive: Ian Bell on Ben Stokes and Pakistan victory

Ben Stokes just continues to impress as captain, wrapping up a series victory in Pakistan with a Test to spare.

I look at the captains I played under and he’s more of a Michael Vaughan-style leader. Vaughany was a very aggressive captain in terms of how he played the game and I think when we played under Vaughany, certainly at that time against Australia it was the only way to go really because we looked at them, and 11 v 11 they were a better side, so we had to be as aggressive as possible. 

Looking at Stokesy now, the clarity in messaging that he’s given to the group impresses me. Also one of the things with his batting at the moment – he’s gone to gear six and he could probably pull that down to gear four and still be good enough, but he’s sending a message every time he goes out to bat that it’s okay to play with freedom and to play this way. 

The declaration in the first Test was one of the best bits of captaincy we’ve seen for a long time. This is the same team that England had 12 months before and they’ve managed to make a big shift in a very positive way. 

The caveat to that is in the previous 12 months before Stokes there were four Test matches in India and five in Australia, and in our next 12 months, there’s an Ashes at home before five Tests in India in early 2024, so there are some big challenges around the corner, but at the moment, we’re seeing incredible leadership to see a team that had won one in 17 to now winning eight in nine.

Related Cricket News

Pakistan v England 3rd Test preview

Entertaining England claim series win

Tactically he’s getting things right and in terms of man management to get the best out of the players, he’s doing that as well. 

There’s been talk that Stokes and McCullum are changing how Test cricket will be played, but I think you have to go with what you have. They have a lot of shot-players at the moment. There aren’t really any Alastair Cooks or Jonathan Trotts in that batting order who’ll bat for their life and if you wanted someone to bat for four sessions, they’d be those guys.

One of the things that goes under the radar with this group, and I know we’re in a different time now and it was different with Covid and bubbles, but England went through a period of rotating and resting, whereas we’ve gone back to playing our best XI, not worrying about two or three games ahead, we’re playing the best XI Test match after Test match after Test match. 

It’s unlikely we’ll be seeing England in the final of the World Test Championship with this edition starting back in August 2021, but based on what we’ve seen over the last 12 months, nobody will want to face them. 

Our white ball cricket has been in an incredible place for a few years whereas Test cricket was dropping off. If you asked anyone, ‘who don’t you want to face in a Test match at the moment?’ England would be the answer. 

I was surprised to see Pakistan as slight favourites for the third Test having lost the first two. I know they’re at home, but looking at the 11s, man for man, England are by far the better side, and I feel Pakistan have been disappointing. 

England have been fantastic and done everything right, but you look at the Pakistan side, they’ve got a world class player in Babar Azam, but as far as the rest of the top six goes, that’s probably it, whereas in years gone by – certainly in home conditions – they’d have had four or five. 

Though not quite as dramatic as the first Test, the second Test was very much in the balance on the final day, though I did feel pretty confident. 

I always feel in those situations, someone’s going to have to bat incredibly well to get them over the line, and certainly from the confidence from the first Test match, I thought England had enough runs, and this pitch had a little bit more in it, certainly for the spinners than the previous one, so it was another great Test match, but I was quietly confident. 

Looking at Pakistan at the moment, they showed a little bit more in the second innings, and there were a few that stood up, not just Babar Azam. I thought England were pretty dominant over the five days.

Ashes on the horizon

It’s still a few months away, but it’s hard not to have an eye on the Ashes. 

I’ve always felt that in home conditions we should beat Australia. I look at the skillset we have, with Anderson and Broad, the batting unit is getting better having relied on Joe Root for so long. 

That and the Duke’s ball makes us marginal favourites – but it is going to be marginal. 

Australia will have most of the same team from the last series and with the age profiles, it’ll be the last chance for a few of them to win it over here, and they’ve got a lot of class in the side, but looking at England now, if they carry on as they have been, it’ll be an amazing series.

Related Articles

bet365 uses cookies

We use cookies to deliver a better and more personalised service. For more information, see our Cookie Policy

New to bet365? Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets

Join Now

Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of qualifying bets. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.