Coronavirus: England hero Stokes vows to wow in closed-doors cricket

By Sports Desk May 05, 2020

Ben Stokes has vowed England will produce showstopping performances when cricket returns - even if the stands are empty.

After last year's Cricket World Cup and Headingley Ashes heroics, all-rounder Stokes and England would have been a hot ticket this year, and they were looking forward to a home series against West Indies.

A three-Test series in June has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, but there are hopes it could take place later in the year.

It seems inevitable the matches will be played behind closed doors, however, if they happen at all.

Asked whether the absence of spectators could mean a competitive edge being diminished, Stokes said: "No, I don't think so whatsoever.

"If you think about it, we're walking out to represent our country, we've got the Three Lions on our chest and there's a game in front of us for us to win.

"Whether that's in front of nobody or like we're used to in front of a full crowd, I don't think it's going to take that competitive side away.

"It's just going to be a completely different scenario for us to get our head around, that there isn't going to be the atmosphere or the cheering that we're used to when we're playing an international game.

"We would do anything to get cricket back on the TVs and for people to follow and watch, and if that means we have to play in front of nobody then so be it."

Stokes, who said he has never run more than eight kilometres in a single stretch before, was setting out to complete a half-marathon on Tuesday to raise money for NHS Charities Together and Chance To Shine.

He is waiting for the green light to return to cricket training, and eventually the go-ahead to return to the field of play for a resumption of competition.

Like everybody with an interest in cricket, he is waiting to hear from the powers-that-be.

Stokes told BBC Radio 5 Live: "There's always plans being put in place and spoken about, but we're still not 100 per cent sure on what's going to happen and when's that going to happen.

"Everybody's main concern at the moment when these chats are happening is the safety and wellbeing of everybody, because at the end of the day that is the most important thing to us as players and the ECB [England and Wales Cricket Board] as a business.

"They're not going to push anything until everybody is satisfied they can operate without having to worry that people are going to be exposed or put in danger to anything.

"Cricket is just a sport and the health, safety and wellbeing of everybody involved, not just in the team but around the cricket community, is the most important thing right now."

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