‘Our expectations keep getting blown out of the water’: Ben Stokes heaps praise on his players after England’s comprehensive victory over New Zealand gave him a record-equalling 10th victory in just 12 Tests as captain
Ben Stokes said his expectations for England had been ‘blown out of the water’ after equalling Lindsay Hackett’s record as the quickest captain to 10 victories in Test history.
Stokes reached double figures for victories in just his 12th Test in charge, including being defeated in his first against West Indies while standing in for Joe Root, and saw England win their sixth in succession when they completed a 267-run triumph over New Zealand before the first interval on the fourth day of the first day-night Test.
And Stokes was quick to give the credit to his team when asked about his extraordinary record in charge after taking over from Root when England had reached rock bottom in winning just one of their previous 17 Tests in charge.
‘I don’t know if I had any expectations,’ said Stokes after Jimmy Anderson had taken four of the last five New Zealand wickets to fall on the fourth day to finish with figures of four for 18.
‘I just thought when I took over it would be a chance for a slightly bigger change in the way the team thought about going out and playing Tests.
Ben Stokes led England to a dominant 267-run victory over New Zealand in Mount Maunganui
The 31-year-old has now won 10 of his 12 Tests as captain, the joint fastest to the landmark in history
England’s win came after an excellent day four spell from James Anderson that left him with the remarkable figures of four for 18
‘But in terms of the results we’ve had against high quality opposition I guess you could say we have exceeded expectations. Those expectations just keep getting blown out of the water by the performances not just of the team but certain individuals.
‘I can only go out there as captain and say “can we try this” but it’s the players who have to execute everything. Not only have I got an unbelievable bowling attack but I’ve also got a seriously skilled and very brave batting line-up to watch. They’ve got to take a lot of credit for the record I have as captain.’
Principal among the individuals blowing all expectations out of the water is the gifted figure of Harry Brook, player of the match here for making 89 and 54 at the Bay Oval, who is averaging 77.87 after his first five Tests at a remarkable strike-rate of 96.88.
Stokes broke the world record for the number of sixes struck in Test cricket, 107 by none other than England coach Brendon McCullum, here but then predicted it would not be long before he loses the mark to Brook.
Stokes broke England coach Brendon McCullum’s record for the most Test sixes earlier in the game
He joked that Harry Brook would ‘probably break it in the next 20 games’ after a stellar start to his Test career
‘I was blowing that six over the ropes because I didn’t think it was going to go,’ said stokes of his record-breaking six. When it went over it was like I picked Brendon up off my shoulder and dropped him!
‘He said to me ‘well done’ and I said ‘Brooky will probably break in in the next 20 games the way he’s going’ (Brook has 15 sixes in five Tests already).
‘I can’t see my record being around too long if Harry is in the side which I imagine he will be for a long time.’
Ollie Robinson appeared to be suffering from calf and shin stiffness towards the end of this first Test but Stokes intimated he will pick an unchanged team for the second Test in Wellington that begins on Thursday night when he added: ‘There will be a few days to see how everyone pulls up. If everyone is fresh as a daisy I can’t see anything changing.’