(Reuters) – Ben Stokes’ last tour of Australia ended in ignominy but the England all-rounder claims he is back with a new attitude and ready for a dream debut in the second Ashes test at Adelaide.
Stokes was sent home from an England Lions tour of Australia in February for repeated misdemeanours but the New Zealand-born player has worked hard enough since to be part of a three-horse race for the number six slot in the England batting lineup.
The position became available when top-order batsman Jonathan Trott left the tour due to a stress-related issue earlier this week.
“(There are) three guys who have the chance to get into that number six spot,” the 22-year-old Stokes told reporters on Thursday, a day ahead of the team’s two-day practice game in Alice Springs with the second test starting on Dec 5.
“Whether it’s me, or Gary Ballance or Jonny Bairstow… we’ve got the next two days to go out there and put our hand up,” Stokes added.
Determined to make the most of an audition against a Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI, Stokes said being sent home for indiscipline served as a perfect wake-up call.
“I did set myself out to change it all around and get (team director) Andy Flower thinking ‘this guy’s serious in what he wants to do’,” he said.
“You put in the hard work and you get rewards. I looked at the bigger picture and thought ‘I’m in this profession to play at the highest level’.