Stokes has ‘huge respect’ for Warner and Smith
Birmingham: England all-rounder Ben Stokes has "respect" for the way David Warner has handled the jeering of World Cup crowds this summer but has identified the robust opener as one of two pivotal wickets in the World Cup semi-final on Thursday.
In a rare interview on the eve of the biggest game of his career, Stokes said defeating Australia in the Edgbaston showdown would provide a joy unlike any other.
"Playing against Australia is a big occasion, in any sport. The rivalry goes way back and we have the Ashes this summer, too," he said.
"Beating them is that much better than any other team. Losing to them at Lord's was massively disappointing, so I think there will be a bit of redemption for that, knowing we have the chance to beat them and get to that final."
Stokes knows all about how tough it can be returning to a side after making headlines for all the wrong reasons. In his case, it was because of a fight outside a Bristol nightclub in 2017. He was found not guilty of affray but missed the subsequent Ashes series in Australia.
He can understand what Warner and Steve Smith went through after the ball-tampering scandal led to their year-long suspensions by Cricket Australia, and appreciates how well they have handled the boos through this tournament.
"I've been to Australia and it is just non-stop. It's part and parcel. I have huge respect for them for performing like they have coming back, being able to block all that out," Stokes said.
"I sit with 'Morgs' [England captain Eoin Morgan] on it – it's up to the crowd [if they want to boo]. But respect to them for dealing with on-field pressures and the crowds, while still delivering."
Regardless, he said England needed to dislodge Warner and skipper Aaron Finch early, the pair having put on 123 inside 23 overs when the nations last met – a 64-run win by Australia at Lord's just over a fortnight ago. Warner and Finch have been the key to several of Australia's seven wins.
"I wouldn't say over-reliant but Finch and Warner try and set the tone. We know if we get them early and we'll lump pressure on the middle order," he said.
"But it's easier said that done getting those two out early. But we know what's coming because we play them so often."
Stokes was superb at Lord's, for he was the only recognised batsman to make a stand, making 89 off 115 balls with eight boundaries and two sixes. When he was dismissed thanks to a searing Mitchell Starc yorker, England's hopes evaporated.
"It was one of the best I have ever faced. That's the danger ball, it's a wicket-taker. It's a very good skill to have. He's top wicket-taker for a reason and right up there with the best," Stokes said.
Morgan and gloveman Jos Buttler, the latter widely considered the best middle-order thumper in the sport, both failed against Australia and have had indifferent campaigns.
Morgan has a weakness against the bouncer, and has a history of struggling to deal with Starc, as seen at Lord's, while Buttler has not had the tournament he wanted since a century against Pakistan in game two of the group phase.
As England search for their first World Cup final since 1992, Stokes said Morgan and Buttler were ready to handle an oppositiRead More – Source