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ICC World Cup 2019 | Flintoff Backs Stokes To 'Steal The Show' For England

Andrew Flintoff believes Ben Stokes can "steal the show" for England in a home season featuring both the World Cup and the Ashes.

AFP |May 8, 2019, 11:29 AM IST
ICC World Cup 2019 | Flintoff Backs Stokes To 'Steal The Show' For England

Andrew Flintoff believes Ben Stokes can "steal the show" for England in a home season featuring both the World Cup and the Ashes.

For the first time since the inaugural men's World Cup in 1975, England are staging arguably the two biggest events in their calendar -- the one-day showpiece and a Test series against arch-rivals Australia -- in the same season.

For a multi-format cricketer such as Stokes, a dynamic pace-bowling all-rounder of a similar kind to the now-retired Flintoff, it could be a career-defining summer.

Stokes, however, has yet to hit the heights he showed before being acquitted of affray by an English court last year following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in the early hours of the morning.

Flintoff believes Stokes' bowling confidence may have been set back by being hit for four successive sixes by the West Indies' Carlos Brathwaite in the last over of a 2016 World Twenty20 final in Kolkata that England had been poised to win.

But Flintoff said that was partly a consequence of Stokes' willingness to take responsibility at key stages.

"With Ben he's just different," Flintoff told reporters in London on Tuesday.

"As a batter he can bat three, he can bat four -- his bowling's getting better all the time."

"The World T20 probably knocked his confidence a little bit. That can happen, bowling at the death," added Flintoff at an event to publicize the official song of the World Cup, 'Stand By' by Loryn and Rudimental.

"He's always in the big moments of a game. He seems to be that lad who lifts the team." Former England captain Flintoff's career also featured its fair share of off-field controversy, with the 41-year-old saying this could take a toll on a player's form.

"I think since what happened the year before last, it's always hard sometimes," he said.

"You've just got to find your feet again. You're playing for the team but you're also playing a little bit for acceptance as well -- for the crowd, for the people coming to watch you.

"I think he has come through the other side and I think we're about to see the best of Ben Stokes. Or I hope so, because I genuinely love watching him."

Flintoff, a central figure with both bat and ball when England regained the Ashes on home soil in 2005, said the season ahead would be the ideal stage for Stokes to shine.

"World Cup, Ashes -- it's all to play for," he insisted.

"As a character and player like Ben, you wouldn't be surprised if he just steals the show.

"We can (then) all forget about 2005 and move on with ourselves!"

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4027 115
2 New Zealand 2829 109
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 4366 104
5 Australia 3270 99
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7748 277
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4720 262
4 India 8620 261
5 Australia 5471 261
see more