Ben Stokes was defiant about the approach England was taking and his failures with the bat, stating he is working with the coach to commit to a style which has worked wonders so far. He went on to comment on all aspects of the squad at length before opining on the upcoming T20 series in Pakistan.
England have closed off a busy Test season in spectacular fashion with a comfortable 9-wicket victory over a resurgent South Africa side to close out the series 2-1 after losing the first game emphatically. The first two days of the decider saw no play due to rain and the Queen's death respectively, but all it took the hosts was a little over six sessions to cap off the match.
Since taking over as the Three Lions skipper, Stokes has now managed six wins in seven games, including a one-off win versus India and a clean sweep of New Zealand. Working with head coach Brendon McCullum, his reign has focused on a need to play a positive brand of cricket unrelenting in the face of extreme odds.
"You can keep criticizing me if we are going to keep winning six out of seven games. For me it's about the clarity of messaging, I and Brendon are delivering the message, we can do only so much. The team and backroom have really bought into this. It's really rare, this game with it being shortened, our main aim was to create a result, and to play in a way that entertains people," Stokes firmly stated in the post-match presentation.
"You mention Joe, he's got to take credit for captaining the side for six years then buying into something different. Everyone has bought into it, I'm really thankful they see the bigger picture of what we want to achieve," he added.
Stokes was named player of the series for his side as well, scalping 10 wickets and scoring a match-winning century in the second fixture. The series also saw James Anderson become the game's most successful pacer ever, while Stuart Broad surpassed Glenn McGrath as the quick with second most wickets in Tests. All-rounder Ollie Robinson excelled in the final clash as well, securing the man of the match accolade with a five-wicket haul in the first innings.
"It's been a great series for us as a team, no real individual stand-out performances, but different people at different times have broken the game open at different times. The conditions we've found on day one, the toss is one you want to win, but you have to execute your plans, and counteract the team that does win it."
"When you've got the bowlers like Jimmy, Broady and Robbo with the skills they possess, it's about managing them, and bringing myself in at an appropriate time when the big lads have done their spells. They've been phenomenal. Phenomenal to have two [Anderson and Broad] of the great seam bowlers in your team, two sporting greats, very blessed. They are a huge credit to themselves and this game, and a lot of young players who want to be fast bowlers look up to them," Stokes stated.
As for the bat, Ollie Pope's 67 in the first innings helped his team take a 40-run edge before Zak Crawley's stroke-filled 69*(57) ensured an easy chase of 130.
"The way Popey's come out and played, he's shown what he's capable of playing, and Zak and Leesy, opening the batting in England is very hard. Don't underestimate how they set the tone," Stokes proclaimed.
England now head to Pakistan to take them on in seven T20Is ahead of the World T20 Down Under.
A different challenge in Pakistan, more spin to face, but we will go in with a positive mindset, just might have to think differently about the conditions," the skipper concluded.