A day after being named the most valuable player of the tenth edition of the Indian Premier League, England all-rounder Ben Stokes has lauded the tournament’s role in making him a player better.
The 25-year old, who is the costliest overseas player in the history of the tournament, justified his INR 14.5 crore price tag with his superlative performances throughout the season before leaving for national duty after the completion of the league stage.
Stokes scored 316 runs at a strike rate of 142.98 including a brilliant century against Gujarat Lions and took 12 wickets at an economy rate of 7.18, as Rising Pune Supergiant made it to their maiden IPL playoffs.
Stokes’ absence, meanwhile, did not make much of a difference in the playoffs where Pune defeated Mumbai Indians to qualify for the final. However, his absence was dearly felt in the final where his side lost against Mumbai by just 1 run in a low-scoring thriller.
“Everyone who goes there becomes a better player,” Stokes told BBC Sport on Monday(May 22). “It would be great in the future if maybe the whole England team could be out there.”
“It’s not just the fact of playing in the tournament, it’s the exposure you get as a player. Playing in high-pressure situations against all the best players in the world at what they do – guys bowling at 150kph and guys knocking it out of the park if you do not hit the areas you want to bowl,” Stokes expressed.
Expressing his delight on sharing the dressing room with some of the biggest names in world cricket, Stokes said:
“To be part of a competition like that was an amazing experience – the biggest Twenty20 competition in world cricket – [as was] being able to share a changing room with the greatest players in the world, the greats of the game of cricket.”
Ever since bagging the lucrative deal, Stokes was under immense pressure to perform and although he did not set the tournament on fire in initial matches, he grew from strength to strength as the season progressed.
“I didn’t go into the tournament worrying about [the fee]. The biggest thing for me was making sure I left a good impression with my performances on the field. That’s what we pride ourselves on as cricketers. All the pressure I put on myself was wanting to perform on the pitch,” he said.
Stokes is currently preparing with his national side for the upcoming three-match ODI series against South Africa, starting from May 24. After the series, Stokes and his teammates will set their eyes on the ICC Champions Trophy, as they look to end England’s long wait for a global ICC trophy.
The new-look England side under Eoin Morgan has been doing consistently well since the 2015 World Cup debacle and Stokes said his team would look to replicate their performances of the last couple of years in the upcoming matches.
“We are just going to try to do what we have been doing over that last two years which is to go out there and perform to the best of our capabilities and always want to be on the front foot,” Stokes said.
“We’ve always known that we are a destructive outfit so when other opponents are saying that they don’t like bowling at Jos [Buttler], for instance, at the end, you know what they are going through at the end of the mat,” he said.
“South Africa are one of the best teams in the world. They have got some of the best players in the world as well so it’s a good opportunity to get into some form leading into the Champions Trophy,” he concluded.