Stokes feels 'blessed' to work with England's plethora of bowling options

By Sports Desk February 19, 2023

Ben Stokes feels "blessed" to be working with such a strong bowling unit as England wrapped up a 267-run rout of New Zealand in the first Test in Mount Maunganui.

After Stuart Broad's mesmerising Saturday spell, in which he removed four of the Black Caps' top order, James Anderson swept up the tail as England finished an impressive job within one session at Bay Oval on Sunday.

During the match, Anderson and Broad – first and second on England's all-time list of Test wicket-takers – became the most successful partnership in the history of five-day cricket, tallying 1,009 combined by the end of the match to surpass the previous best of 1,001 achieved by Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

With Ollie Robinson also in England's best XI, and Mark Wood, Olly Stone, Matthew Potts, Jofra Archer, Saqib Mahmood and Chris Woakes among those knocking on the door, captain Stokes is blessed with options ahead of the Ashes versus Australia later this year.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: "It was another great performance – very clinical with the bat and very clinical with the ball. 

"When you look at the bowling attack we have got with the pink ball under the lights, we executed everything we wanted. To have Jimmy and Broady in your bowling attack, it is always going to be tough for the opposition.

"The most pleasing thing was that whatever New Zealand threw at us with the ball, we managed to react to that. It was entertaining cricket. Even though we came away with the result, [entertaining] is what we want to do. Some days it is not going to work, but thankfully everything we tried to do paid off.

"I am pretty blessed to be in charge of this bowling group at the moment. The idea is to take 10 wickets and that is what we are trying to do – taking the scoreboard away in any situation. 

"As long as we are taking 10 wickets, it doesn't really matter how many runs we go for. We have an ethos with the bat but also with the ball."

England have racked up six straight Test wins as the Stokes-Brendon McCullum revolution continues at a pace.

This represented a 10th win from 12 Tests as captain, the joint-fastest a skipper has reached the milestone.

"There are 10 other people who have to go out there and do a job," Stokes added to BBC Sport. "I'm very lucky to be able to captain this team at the moment.

"When you look at captaincy records, it's only a small part of it.

"It's not only my captaincy and ideas that are allowing us to play this way, you also have to have the players fully behind you, to follow you out there with what you want to do.

"I've got off to a great start with my captaincy, but most of that has got to go down to the players."

New Zealand captain Tim Southee felt his team created plenty of opportunities for wickets but did not do enough to stop England when they were in full attack mode.

"It is disappointing, but credit to England, strategically they played it pretty well. We were on the receiving end of a couple of night periods that obviously weren't ideal," Southee told Sky Sports.

"The style they play is going to present opportunities, and we saw that in the first innings. We got nine wickets in the end, and in the second innings we got all 10 – but it's about stopping the bleeding in between."

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