England all-rounder Ben Stokes has said competing in high-pressure situations against the world's top players at the IPL makes one a better player. The 25-year-old Stokes believes England have earned the right to be called as firm favourites for the upcoming Champions Trophy at home.
Stokes was a key player for Rising Pune Supergiant this season and played a lead role with both bat and ball (316 runs and 12 wickets) to help the side qualify for the playoffs before returning home for national duty.
"Everyone who goes there becomes a better player," Stokes told BBC Sport. "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 added.
Bought for Rs 14.5 crore at this year's auction, there was a lot of pressure on Stokes to perform.
"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," he said.
"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."
Stokes also attributed his success to the advice and help of Steve Smith, saying, "From playing with a guy you play against – England v Australia and the hype around England v Australia – then playing with him, it was really good actually," said Stokes.
"I remember doing a batting session with some power hitting where the guy who I will actually be playing against in the Ashes in our winter was helping me, which is something that you would never be able to fathom when you are playing against each other. The IPL is probably the only place where you get that."
England came close to winning the Champions Trophy twice, both at home, before losing to West Indies in 2004 and India in 2013. However, post the 2015 World Cup, England's limited-overs performance have been impressive, making them firm favourites this time around.
"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.”
Did you know, Ben Stokes holds the record of most runs in a Test innings at the 6th position - 258 runs.
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