Ben Stokes offers support to Jofra Archer after scoring ton against West Indies
Ben Stokes took a leading role for England on and off the pitch on day two of the second Test against the West Indies, hitting a fine 176 then offering his full support for team-mate Jofra Archer.
Stokes’ 10th Test century was further evidence of his maturity in the middle, a perfectly-paced knock that saw him grind down the tourists alongside the stoic Dom Sibley, who made 120, before opening up after reaching three figures.
It allowed England to declare on 469 for nine, and left just enough time for Sam Curran to prise out John Campbell before the close, but he also spoke in impressively measured tones about Archer’s ongoing travails.
The paceman has spent the last two days isolating in his on-site hotel room at Emirates Old Trafford after an unauthorised trip to Brighton breached the team’s bio-secure bubble and faces further disciplinary action this week.
Archer’s lapse, which only came to light late on the eve of the match, caused disbelief and frustration in the England camp but Stokes insisted he now needed support from his team-mates.
“We really need to be there to support Jofra right now,” was his instant reaction to Archer’s period of solitude.
“Obviously he’s a big talking point and he is by himself because of everything else going on at the moment.
“It’s making sure that it doesn’t feel like he’s by himself. The worst thing we could do right now as a team is just leave him and see him in five or six days time.
“It’s all good being there for people when things are going well and smoothly but what really comes through is how you operate with someone when they need you the most.”
Stokes made no reference to the difficulties he has experienced in his own career, which include missing an entire Ashes tour while an ultimately discarded charge of affray hung over him, but he knows better than most what it feels like to be at the eye of a storm.
“At times like this people are very, very tough and you can feel like you are all by yourself, but I don’t think anybody is going to allow that to happen,” he said.
“Jofra’s a massive part of this group, as everybody is. If it was anybody else bar Jofra it would be exactly the same.”
Stokes was speaking after his second highest score in England colours, an outstanding all-round batting display that included 17 fours and two sixes but also long periods of deep concentration.
He and Sibley added 260 for the fourth wicket, well over half the team’s total runs in one partnership, but he took his share of the work in his stride.
“Numbers, figures…I don’t really care. The main number for me is how many wins,” he said.
“I was more buzzing that I faced 300 balls than I was when I got to my hundred, that’s something I never thought I’d be capable of doing. The more time you spend in the middle the more chance you’ve got to get runs.
“Being an instinctive player is great but there’s time in the past where I’ve let how I’m playing at the time affect me, thinking I can play some big shots and I’d be alright.
“I feel at an age and an experience level where I really understand my game pretty much all the time and I try not to get carried away.”
Sibley, who set the tone for unfaltering diligence by batting for 372 balls at the head of the innings, was rewarded with a second hundred in England kit and first on home turf.
“Sometimes you think maybe after you get one it might be a bit of a fluke but to get two is a great feeling, and obviously it put us in a good position in the Test,” he said.
I want a piece of it – Darren Stevens still has desire to keep pushing with Kent
Kent were crowned Vitality Blast champions at Edgbaston courtesy of a helping hand from the evergreen Stevens.
Chris Cairns on the road to recovery after revealing he suffered spinal stroke
The former New Zealand all-rounder has expressed his gratitude to the medical teams who saved his life and to his many well-wishers.
Stuart Broad committed to Ashes amid concerns over England’s trip to Pakistan
The ECB is set to make a decision about whether to make the expedition to Pakistan, which precedes the T20 World Cup and Ashes campaigns.
Sam Billings hails ‘magic’ Jordan Cox after Kent win Vitality Blast
Cox’s half-century was outshone by his own spectacular piece of boundary fielding in the 25-run win over Somerset.
Kent crowned Vitality Blast champions after beating Somerset in eventful final
Jordan Cox shone in the field for the Spitfires in the showpiece match at Edgbaston.
Daniel Bell-Drummond and Darren Stevens shine as Kent set up final with Somerset
Stevens won this competition with Leicestershire in 2004.
Somerset through to Vitality Blast final after edging out Hampshire in thriller
Chasing Hampshire’s 150 all out, Somerset won by two wickets with two balls remaining.
Ravi Shastri intends to stand down after an India Twenty 20 World Cup win
The head coach does not want to outstay his welcome.
Sam Billings wants a winning end to the summer to set him up for a busy winter
The Kent captain is aiming to lift the team to their first silverware since 2009.