Journal De Bruxelles - Stokes urges England to intensify attack in 2nd New Zealand Test

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Stokes urges England to intensify attack in 2nd New Zealand Test
Stokes urges England to intensify attack in 2nd New Zealand Test / Photo: Lindsey Parnaby - AFP

Stokes urges England to intensify attack in 2nd New Zealand Test

Ben Stokes has urged England to be "even more positive" as they go in search of a series-clinching win over New Zealand in the second Test at Trent Bridge starting Friday.

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England's new leadership duo of captain Stokes and red-ball head coach Brendon McCullum, a former New Zealand skipper, had promised an attacking style ahead of their first game at the helm at Lord's last week.

Their side largely made good on those intentions as England, who had won just one of their previous 17 Tests, bowled aggressively and produced a markedly improved fielding display.

If England's top-order batting remains a concern, they still ended a see-saw contest with a five-wicket win secured by Joe Root's superb unbeaten century in the outstanding batsman's first Test since resigning as captain.

England are fielding an unchanged XI in Nottingham from the one originally selected at Lord's after Jack Leach, passed fit to play after suffering a concussion fielding at the 'Home of Cricket', retained his place ahead of substitute Matt Parkinson.

And Stokes wants England's approach to be similarly unaltered, with no thought of protecting their 1-0 lead in a three-match series.

"The message from me to everyone is to be even more positive than we were last week," he told reporters at Trent Bridge on Thursday.

"If you look at the result, we ended up winning, but let's just not be comfortable with where we are. Let's just always look to try and be better."

The 50-over World Cup-winning all-rounder added: "Something I learned from the way that Eoin Morgan captains the one-day team is that he's just looking to be more positive, in defeat or in victory... I just want everyone to enjoy every single moment, whether that be on the training field or out in the middle playing for England."

- 'Easy' Leach call -

Stokes was adamant he'd given no thought to leaving out Leach after the bowler's first home appearance since 2019 was cut short by a bizarre accident while fielding on the boundary edge on the opening morning at Lord's.

The 30-year-old left-arm spinner often felt under-appreciated by the previous England regime, with Leach subjected to repeated spells on the sidelines.

But as soon as medical staff gave him the all clear that was good enough for Stokes, with Parkinson standing down after his surprise debut while batsman Harry Brook and pace bowler Craig Overton again missed out.

"It was very unfortunate for Leachy last week," said Stokes. "This week was an easy one, once the doctors and Leachy said he was good to go."

Victory in Nottingham would give England their first series win in six attempts, with almost 18 months having passed since they defeated Sri Lanka on home soil.

Root spoke after his 115 not out at Lord's about the toil captaincy had taken on him, particularly during England's recent woeful run of results.

Stokes, who witnessed the strain on his longstanding friend and at close quarters, was delighted by the way fellow 31-year-old Root responded to being back among the ranks.

"I went through that whole ride with Joe, especially over the last two years," Stokes said. "We had some private conversations on tour around that kind of stuff.

"Being England captain is more than just what you do on the field. You can end up taking it home and it can affect your personal situation, which Joe was very brave to say. But without that added pressure of being captain it was almost like he was 18 again last week," he added.

"It's great he doesn't have that mountain of added pressure of being captain on his shoulders, he can just go out there and score the runs like he does."