Ben Stokes reserves special praise for two England players after historic Pakistan whitewash
Ben Stokes hailed his England team for making history in Pakistan and reserved special praise for three-time centurion Harry Brook and new spin sensation Rehan Ahmed.
England became the first ever visiting team to win three matches in a series in Pakistan as they won by eight wickets in Karachi to complete a 3-0 whitewash.
Under Stokes and Brendon McCullum, England have quickly developed into one of the most formidable and exciting teams in the world, with their stunning progress continuing on their first tour of Pakistan in 17 years.
‘It has been perfect,’ Stokes said at the trophy presentation. ‘We have a process of how to play and then it’s about sticking to our game plans and adapting if necessary, be it with bat or ball.
‘It all comes down to belief. The belief I have in taking the guys out in the field with me. At no point did I not believe in the team and what we are trying to do.
‘The confidence everyone has in themselves and the people around them is unbelievable. To be able to lead a group that has so much belief and confidence gives confidence in myself as well.
‘It is a very special feeling to say that about my players.’
Stokes, who replaced his close friend Joe Root as England Test captain in April, said it would take ‘a while’ to pick out every player who impressed him in Pakistan but reserved special praise for Brook and Ahmed.
Brook scored a century in all three of England’s Tests in Pakistan as he cemented his place in the team just three months after making his international debut in replace of the injured Jonny Bairstow.
Ahmed, meanwhile, claimed figures of 7-137 on his Test debut in Karachi, claiming the prized scalp of Pakistan captain Babar Azam in the process.
Stokes added: ‘If I had to pinpoint everyone I would be here for a while as everyone has stood up at some point and delivered some kind of match-winning performance.
‘But Harry Brook has been unbelievable this series, scoring the amount of runs and the way he has done it is a serious treat to watch. The calmness he has at such a young age is class.
‘And Rehan, gosh, 18 years old. The confidence he has in himself to go out there. He is not the finished article but to have that ability to affect the game is exciting going forward for English cricket.
‘I won’t forget that cap presentation before the match. That experience itself was incredible.’
England head coach McCullum said he was ‘incredible proud’ of his team as they ‘found a way to win’ throughout the tour.
The tourists overcome a dead pitch to beat Pakistan by 74 runs in the series opener, despite the hosts making 579 in their first innings.
It was England’s bowlers who stole the show in the 26-run win in the second Test as Mark Wood took six wickets and James Anderson, Jack Leach and Ollie Robinson all provided valuable contributions.
The third and final Test appeared evenly poised until Leicestershire teenager Ahmed ripped through Pakistan’s middle order on day three with his maiden five-wicket haul, England then chasing 167 with ease.
‘When you turn up here in Pakistan you know you are gong to have to work incredibly hard and will be tested in different ways on and off the field,’ former New Zealand star McCullum said.
‘But the guys stuck together and wanted to take the game and our mantra forward. There were times we could have easily lost games but they found a way and we walk away with some fond memories.’
England’s Test side return to action in February with a two-match series against New Zealand, while they host Australia in the Ashes next summer.
On the upcoming Ashes series, Stokes said: ‘I don’t like looking too far ahead. I obviously have my eye on the Ashes and have got little things about that in the back of my head.
‘We will just continuing to grow as team, spend more time out at here as unit, and keep enjoying having fun, playing cricket with a smile on our face and win as much as we can.’
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