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England South Africa 2022

“I had to ask you how to spell ‘environment’, so this is the last time I write on the whiteboard.”

Who would have thought that the day would come when Ben Stokes wasn’t at the top of the class, pen in hand, drawing lines on the board? Instead, here he was in Rose’s home dressing room on Sunday, letting his teammates reaffirm the values ​​outlined and adhered to in the first four tests of the summer. These values ​​led to four bombastic victories against New Zealand and India, reigniting public love for Test cricket.

“I don’t think it was necessary.

“To send the message to everyone that when we come together as a group, we have our environment, our way of playing, and we’re back in this dressing room with how we play and how we think about the game. I can.”

Everyone in attendance recognized how important this session was. His 43 days between the final day of the India test and the opening of the South African series at Lords on Wednesday felt twice as long. However, his limited overs against India and Proteas were expected to return for a five-day match, even with his series demoralizing and distraction-filled for the Men’s Hundred. During the ten minutes Stokes spent in front of the whiteboard, the mood in the room was that of a group of players and staff at the start of an international summer.

At another time, certainly under a different captain, this might have been a longer, more numbers-oriented exercise. Especially when playing against a Protea side that has a lot of new faces. But this is a team that ultimately came out of its shell by focusing on personality and strengths rather than stats and weaknesses. The robustness of the algorithm may have been checked before, but now it adds a nice touch.

Importantly, however, the best way to test the robustness of “good vibes” is to expose it to bad vibes. , three tests against a South African team with no time to spend rediscovering self and purpose at England’s gap year level.

Players and coaches were coerced into addressing the issue in various media outreach last month, despite messages from the hierarchy within the South African camp not to get caught up in the dreaded ‘B-word’ debate. Captain Dean Elgar, blisteringly quick Anrich Nolce and grizzled coach Marc Boucher all have their say – they’re not fans – Boucher took the lighthearted route, telling reporters Monday. A shot of tequila, preempting the question at the conference by saying that anyone who mentions it needs to. Thus, with only two of his questions related to buzzwords, he got off lightly. The night before the first test, Elgar’s presser brought a few more. Today, protea is even swallowed up by scorpions.

There is much to praise about the mood in this England side, especially how it has been maintained during this Test break. A format that was once a penance now feels like a laugh. Even his 40-year-old players like James Anderson, who has seen it all, feel a unique compulsion in their 20th home summer. A special thing in the future. So you want to be around it as much as possible.

Since playing his final match, the ODI Swan Song, on July 19, Stokes has continued to turn several plates. Beyond resting to make sure his body, especially his left knee, is prepared for the rigors of three tests in his four weeks, anyone under his watch or wants to be. There have been regular check-ins with others who have been there, and they have sent messages of encouragement for their performance, both privately and on Twitter. We’re also checking in on the likes of Zach Crowley, who left the first part of the test season with more questions than the rest. Even currently injured players who have not yet played for the team are being checked in by the captain.

Without a captain, Stokes would have done all these things as a senior man. But there is clearly a growing sense of acknowledgment that he is an important part of all this, he has quietly become one of the most powerful voices in English his cricket and now appreciates the influence of

During the County Championship match between Durham and Middlesex at Chester-le-Street at the end of July, Stokes was informed by former England batting coach and now Middlesex consultant Mark Lamprakash. said he chose Stokes’ brains for the people who are looking after him..”He (Ramprakash) needs to tell the players what we want them to pay attention to.” They were asking me if there was one,” Stokes revealed.

Head coach Brendon McCallum and managing director Rob Key did something similar with the Lions last week, with assistant coach Paul Collingwood assuming the primary coaching role. Reports made earlier in the week of the tour match against South Africa, and conversations during it, influenced an innings that suggested the next harvest was all-in and his 56-run win.

“[It’s about] Besides keeping everything in the changing room here, it’s unfair at this point if young people want to be on this England team, they don’t get the message out to them representing the Lions.

“It’s unfair to the players to leave the players unsure of what is expected of them. We have a certain type of way of playing and anyone trying to push for this English team. needs to know it.”

Broader buy-in is essential for this idea to continue. There’s a reason the most “successful” cults have the most followers. And from Stokes’ sermon alone, he can deduce that he’s “more agitated than usual” because players no longer “slap him on the wrist for taking a silly shot.” That’s exactly the rhetoric that hits the ears of batters across the country.

After all, South Africa cannot believe. But it would be wrong to dismiss their irritation outright as a refusal to mention what England is doing.

Much of what the host has created is based on forgetting doubts, moving away from conservatism, and ignoring risk. Ultimately ignoring his three aspects of this format of the game that made some legends and destroyed countless legends.

Last month South Africa have quietly identified a way to get England to recognize them again. There remains a typical British cynicism that is not too far from They saw it firsthand in the Limited Overs series. A win in the T20s and his one-on-one stalemate in his ODIs led to Jos Buttler’s doubts as captain and a sudden indifference to the charismatic whiteball his team. This summer he had a 1-of-17 win on a Test team with a rocky foundation and much less bank credit.

“All I can say is they had more time to prepare than New Zealand or India because they’ve seen what we’ve done in four games,” Stokes said of what South Africa feared. When asked if he had a “They might have more ideas on how to stop Ruty (Joe Root) or Johnny (Bairstow).”

This is a rivalry that has always had plenty of niggles to accompany hard-fought cricket. It’s funny to think of this as a battle to see who has the least, as you say you’re only interested in being. Now that all the talk is done, we finally have an answer.

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo.

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