BIRMINGHAM: It may not have been the most profound piece of batting advice Steve Smith has ever given when he told Ben Stokes during the Indian Premier League (IPL) that he was “losing his backside a bit”.
But the Australia captain could have been forgiven for wondering why he’d said anything at all as England all-rounder Stokes’s blistering unbeaten century condemned Smith’s men to an early Champions Trophy exit at Edgbaston on Saturday.
Stokes played under Smith’s captaincy for the Rising Pune Supergiant in the IPL. Asked after Saturday’s match what tip Smith had passed on, Stokes told reporters: “He just gave a little tip out in India, something on my technique, something that he felt he could help me with.” Pressed to reveal the nugget of information, Stokes added: “Just that I was losing my backside a bit when I was hitting.”
Stokes certainly didn’t ‘lose’ much at the crease either in the IPL or during Saturday’s clash in Birmingham. Paid a record $2.16 million to play the eight-week IPL season, Stokes was instrumental to Pune reaching the knockout phase after a brilliant debut campaign.
The 26-year-old left-handed batsman and right-handed pace bowler scored 316 runs in 12 matches, with a highest of 103 not out, and took 12 wickets before a recall to England squad duty stopped him featuring in the play-offs.
There was nothing much wrong with Stokes’s shot-making on Saturday either as he powered his way to a 108-ball century including 13 fours and two sixes – his second hundred in three ODI innings.
Stokes’s innings was widely praised, with India captain Virat Kohli, like Smith one of the world’s leading batsmen, tweeting that the England star’s flicked four off Australia fast bowler Pat Cummins was “ridiculous” and “one of the best shots I’ve seen for a while!” But Durham star Stokes was determined to stay grounded. “I never feel I get too high and I never feel I get too low about things,” he said. “I’m always looking to learn and am never happy with how I am going. I think once you get comfortable with what you’re offering it is dangerous territory to be in.” Agencies
BHUBANESWAR: Pakistan beat Egypt by 3-1 in their second match of the ongoing FIH Junior Hockey World Cup here on...Read more