England played a lot of fun cricket, but they need to play smart cricket, says Mark Ramprakash

Ranchi, Feb 22 (IANS): Mark Ramprakash, the former England cricketer, believes the Ben Stokes-led side has played a lot of fun cricket so far, but added that the visitors’ should now realise the need to play smart cricket now.

England are 2-1 behind India in the ongoing five-match Test series following the heavy 434-run defeat in the third game at Rajkot. Stokes & Co, who have now lost two consecutive Tests, must win the fourth game at Ranchi, starting on Friday, to force the last match at Dharamshala into a series decider.

“England are one down with two to play, have just endured a humiliating defeat and they know that on paper the bowling attacks are a complete mismatch. They have played a lot of fun cricket, but sometimes they need to play smart cricket –, the kind at which Stokes on his best days has shown he is so gifted.”

“He is a thinking cricketer and his 100th Test will have been a chastening one. It feels like as captain he has accomplished half a mission. He has transformed the mood around his side, but there is still work to do on their mindset.”

“It will take all of his inspirational leadership to keep this group together and convince them to look at the two remaining matches as real opportunities. He has already had a fabulous career and it is a remarkable achievement to play 100 Tests and to create such a fun side. As he starts on his second century, he needs to focus on creating a winning one,” wrote Ramprakash in his column for The Guardian.

Ramprakash, who also served as England’s batting coach from 2014 to 2019, feels Stokes & Co have it in them to turn the tide in the two remaining matches of the series in Ranchi and Dharamshala.

Two years ago, England had turned an opening innings defeat at Lord’s into a series triumph over South Africa at home. Last year, they turned the 2-0 deficit into a 2-2 series scoreline in the Ashes against Australia.

“England lost the third Test by 434 runs and Stokes immediately welcomed the great opportunity his side now has to win the series 3-2. You wouldn’t expect him to say anything different.”

“While it is important to learn from mistakes, there is no benefit from dwelling on defeat. When they were 2-0 down in the Ashes that seemed to reinforce their approach and improve their focus. Here we are again, only this time 2-1 down and in away conditions.”

“They have some extremely talented players and Duckett, Pope and Crawley have made huge progress on this tour. But some senior members of the squad are struggling badly – Jonny Bairstow is averaging 17, Root 12.83, Ben Foakes is yet to play an impactful innings and Stokes will be looking for improvement from himself.”

“Perhaps the carefree nature that contributed to them finding themselves in this position may help them to recover from it. If there was one team that has a chance of parking a terrible result and starting afresh it is this one,” he concluded.




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Title: England played a lot of fun cricket, but they need to play smart cricket, says Mark Ramprakash

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