After flying home from Perth with the England Performance squad, Durham’s Ben Stokes is looking forward to the next stage of what he hopes will be a rapid rise into the Test team.
The powerful 19-year-old all-rounder has been named alongside his county team-mate Liam Plunkett in the England Lions squad for the two-month trip to the West Indies.
“If I don’t believe that I will be an England all-rounder then it’s never going to happen,” said Stokes, who has been working with coaches Graham Thorpe and Richard Johnson in Australia.
“It’s been a very intense four weeks of training and working on all aspects of my game. We do a lot of training at Durham, but in Australia it’s been a level above that. We’ve worked on every single aspect of what it takes to play international cricket seven days a week and it’s made me realise what’s possible with hard work and patience.
“I’ve got to keep improving and I’m confident of doing that. I’ve had some back problems, but cortisone injections have cleared that up so now I can focus on developing into a genuine all-rounder.”
Stokes, who scored two County Championship centuries before his 19th birthday last May, is also capable of bowling at impressive pace.
He added: “My next target is a good Lions tour before going back to Durham to put some consistent performances together with bat and ball. I’m going to stay patient and do whatever it takes to get into the Test team.”
Four Yorkshire players are in the England Lions squad with county skipper Andrew Gale being joined by Adil Rashid, Adam Lyth and Jonny Bairstow in the 17-man party to tour the Caribbean from January 24 to March 28.
It’s another feather in the cap for Martyn Moxon and his coaching team, with Yorkshire having more squad representatives than any other county.
Gale, Lyth and Bairstow have been with the England Performance Programme in Australia, while Rashid was not included because Moxon felt it would benefit him to have a break.