An emotionally spent Ben Stokes admitted that “playing for England means so much” after his final-day heroics with the ball secured his team a thrilling 31-run victory over India at Edgbaston.
Stokes’ participation in the second Test at Lord’s – and beyond – will depend on how his trial for affray develops, when the case gets underway at Bristol Crown Court on Monday.
However, he managed to put his off-field worries to one side with a brilliant three-wicket intervention on Saturday – including the priceless scalp of Virat Kohli, lbw to an inswinger for 51.
“It’s great to be a part of this game, but I don’t know … I don’t know what to be feeling right now,” Stokes told Sky Sports at the end of the match.
“Throughout the whole innings … Kohli played a brilliant knock in the first innings, but with the ball swinging, he was trying to move across to play for that inswinger, but actually it was the one that I was trying to swing away [that set the wicket up], he maybe leant over and missed one for a change.
“Moments like that change the game in these tight ones. I’m proud to be part of this group, playing for England means so much, and it’s a great start to this tough five-match series. Being 1-0 up we’re in the box seat at the moment.”
Stokes followed that dismissal up by having Mohammed Shami caught behind for a duck in the same over, before wrapping up the contest when Hardik Pandya fenced another lifter to Alastair Cook at first slip.
“We weren’t quite sure what to expect here,” Stokes said. “We knew we needed five wickets and we had all the confidence, These games are brilliant. We’ve copped a lot of stick as a team recently and beating a team like India there has closed a few mouths.
“Winning those tight games, you can’t underestimate what it gives teams for confidence. We’ve got a five-Test match series here, so we’ll take all the confidence we can. There’s no better way to start it off than that.”
Stokes’ all-round impact in a tight Edgbaston Test brought to mind the efforts of Ian Botham in 1981 and Andrew Flintoff in 2005, but he paid particular tribute to another allrounder whose four-wicket haul in the first innings and vital half-century in the second kept England afloat in the game.
“I thought we are a bit behind with the lead but Sam Curran took them out of play,” he said. “The way that he played at such a young age, that was the big turning point of this Test match.”