Eng vs NZ, 1st test, Lord’s, 2022 – Ben Stokes

Two players, great friends, both winners. But the contrast in the joy expressed by Ben Stokes and Joe Root at England’s first Test victory over New Zealand was palpable at Lord’s on Sunday.

Root, by his own admission, freed from captaincy – not so much in terms of personal performance after racking up another century, his 26th in tests to do 10,000 races – but free from all miscellaneous items wrapped up in the role he abandoned after the ill-fated Caribbean spring tour, looked like a completely relieved man.

Stokes, on the other hand, exuded all the enthusiasm of a man who had just won his first game since taking over as captain and starting to work with new coach Brendon McCullum, as well as the determination to a leader who knows his team has “a long road ahead of us”.

“It’s not an overnight thing,” Stokes said. “That’s what me and Brendon are trying to work towards and we know that, but it’s a good start to winning.”

So while England heralded a new era with victory – ending a run of nine Tests without – it was not a complete turnaround. Some of the old problems remain.

They were knocked out for 141 in their first innings, barely better than New Zealand’s 132, and they were 69 for 4 in their second, chasing 277, before Stokes and Root evened things out with a partnership of 90 points for the fifth wicket. Root and Ben Foakes then sealed the result just over an hour into day four with an unbroken stand of 120.

But, as you might expect, Stokes seems to have genuinely bought into everything McCullum introduced in terms of mindset and tactics. For example, Stokes revealed that the plan had been to send Stuart Broad to No 8, ahead of debutant Matthew Potts, if necessary on the third night.

“When Foakesy came out at bat, he was going to send Broady on if we lost the wicket to go slog, just to score 30, 40 runs, game over,” Stokes said. “It’s the kind of stuff we’re not used to in the dressing room. This kind of stuff filtering around us will do us a lot of good.

“The confidence and the energy he brings, his mindset towards the game, he’s just going to make everybody feel 10 feet tall in whatever situation we’re in and j I’ve really enjoyed working with him so far this week.”

Towards the end of Root’s tenure, during the failed Ashes campaign, it felt like his working relationship with veteran dressmakers Broad and James Anderson had soured and, of course, the duo was dropped. for the West Indies tour.

One of the first moves of the new regime was to bring the two straight back into the fold to face New Zealand, and Anderson and Potts took four wickets apiece in the opening innings while Broad’s three wickets, particularly his two out of three as part of a team hat-trick, turned the game upside down on the third morning.

Asked what he was most proud of in his first game at the helm, Stokes highlighted his use of Anderson, Broad and his Durham teammate Potts.

“Everyone knows what Jimmy and Broady are,” he said. “The only difference in the role Matty played was obviously he normally takes the new ball for Durham. But throughout the summer Scotty [Borthwick], the Durham captain, looked to him to get the wicket, to get the breakthrough, to change the game, and that’s how I wanted to use him this week. And he did it every time I threw the ball to him.

“Always looking to be positive and really staying true to what I was saying and how I want to be captain and not letting the game dictate what I was doing. I was just making sure I was sticking to my guns and looking for always to be positive in the way i wanted the bowlers to play, the fields i set up… sticking to everything you talked about because you know actions speak louder than actions words.”

Stokes was full of praise for Root, but also for Foakes, who played a mature shot for his 32 steps on 92 balls.

“We’re not in a position not to select world-class players at the moment,” Stokes said, “and Ben is the best wicket-keeper in the world. It’s not just my own opinion, it’s the opinion of many people.

“Hitting sevens, which he does for England, is different from the role he plays for Surrey because he beats higher, but going last night for 45 minutes was a very, very big part of the game. and he handled it very well. And the fact that he’s not going away with Joe at the end will no doubt give him a lot of confidence for the rest of the summer.

“He took a few catches which he made look very easy but they weren’t and having a glover like Ben behind the stumps gives me a lot of confidence and it gives the bowlers a lot of confidence.”

When asked how he managed to park the captaincy “after hours” so to speak, in light of Root’s extremely honest press conference moments before in which he detailed just how much the role had begun to impact his life outside of cricket, Stokes was relaxed.

That said, he also admitted he had a relatively easy job on what turned out to be the final morning, having lost his wicket the previous evening after contributing a valuable, if somewhat streaky, half-century.

“That was good,” he said, shrugging. “It was my birthday last night and I didn’t have much to do today so it was nice to go out and have dinner with the family and a few beers, so I slept pretty well,” said he declared.

“It’s a good start, we won, there will obviously be ups and downs. things are not going well.”

Despite England’s success, McCullum refused to face the media after the match, presumably to allow his new captain Stokes and match-winner Root to relish the moment.

Valkerie Baynes is an editor at ESPNcricinfo

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