England’s batting discipline and fight has not changed – Stokes

Only three England players had scored half-centuries in the first two Tests

Ben Stokes says England’s batsmen have not approached the third Test against West Indies any differently, despite defeats in the first two.

The tourists reached 231-4 on day one in St Lucia, an improvement after being bowled out for 77, 246, 187 and 132 earlier in the tour.

“People will say ‘why couldn’t they have this discipline, why couldn’t they have this fight before’,” said Stokes.

“We’ve been trying to do the same things in the first two games.”

Even if England have not altered their batting mindset, they have at least made changes to their line-up, with opener Keaton Jennings recalled after being dropped for the second Test, Joe Denly pushed down to number three and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes omitted, with Jonny Bairstow reclaiming the gloves.

England slipped to 107-4, but all-rounder Stokes made an unbeaten 62, sharing a stand of 124 with Jos Buttler, who is 67 not out.

“We’ve gone about today the same way we’ve tried to in the first two Tests,” Stokes told the Test Match Special podcast. “We haven’t just turned up and thought ‘let’s give it a go now’.”

Stokes was the benefit of a reprieve on 52 when Alzarri Joseph was found to have overstepped after the Durham man slapped a return catch back to the bowler.

In the time it took for the decision to be reviewed and overturned, Stokes had left the field, put some of his kit on the boundary edge and returned to the dressing room.

In the past, leaving the playing area would have meant the end of Stokes’ innings, but a change to the Laws in 2017 meant he could resume because the next delivery had not been bowled.

He was alerted to the change in decision by batting coach Mark Ramprakash and re-emerged from the dressing room, passing next batsman Bairstow, who had already got part of the way to the wicket.

“I thought my day was over,” he said. “I got into the changing rooms and just sat there. I actually thought Jonny had got out first ball, that he was walking off and that was a no-ball.

“I’m lucky. I don’t take my kit off until 10 or 15 minutes after I’m out. Some people take their kit off right away. If that had happened, I don’t know what would have happened.

“I had to walk out there and forget it all. It was like I hadn’t been off the field. I was given a lifeline and tried not to throw it away.”

Stokes did, however, question the time taken for the correct to decision to be made.

“In international cricket, with all the technology and cameras around, it shouldn’t take that long to get someone back out,” he added. “I’ve never walked off the field and then gone back in.

“I had to get back into the frame of mind I was in beforehand and distract myself from the funny side of it. The West Indians found it funny, which was probably the hardest thing to deal with. They were all laughing as I came back on.”

Stokes had been a doubt for this Test because of a heel problem, but confirmed he will be fit to bowl. Before then, he said that he and Buttler will be looking to build on England’s first-day performance.

“I don’t think the pitch will get easier,” he said. “Hopefully me and Jos can continue this partnership and push on to 400.”

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