‘I’m not going to look back with any regrets’: Stand-in captain Ben Stokes stands by decisions to drop Stuart Broad and bat first after Jermaine Blackwood propelled West Indies to first-Test victory
- Ben Stokes said he did not regret key decisions as England lost to West Indies
- Jermaine Blackwood got an impressive 95 to help the tourists chase down 200
- Stokes believes he was right to bat first under cloudy skies in Southampton
Ben Stokes insisted he did not regret two key decisions as England lost a home Test to West Indies for only the second time in 20 years.
After Jermaine Blackwood’s brilliant 95 helped the tourists chase down 200 for the loss of six wickets on a tense final day in Southampton, England’s stand-in captain said he was right to have batted first under cloudy skies – and right to have left out his experienced seam bowler Stuart Broad.
Stokes, who will hand over the armband for Thursday’s second Test in Manchester when Joe Root returns from paternity leave, said: ‘I stand by the decision to bat. We’ve got to be good enough to put runs on board. We just didn’t quit manage to grasp the game like we might have done.
Ben Stokes insisted that he did not regret two key decisions in England’s loss to the West Indies
Jermaine Blackwood ramped up a brilliant 95 as the tourists chased down 200 on the final day
‘We’ll look back and understand that when we get into positions like we did in both innings, we need to be really ruthless. If we had another 60 or 80 runs to play with, it would have been a different game.’
As for Broad, who gave a heartfelt mid-match interview in which he expressed his anger at being omitted from a home Test for the first time in eight years, Stokes said: ‘If I was to regret that, I don’t think it sends the right message to other guys.
‘The interview he gave was fantastic. For someone who has played over 100 Tests, to see the desire and passion he showed and the answers he gave – if he wasn’t like that, then I’d be worried. We made a decision based around thinking pace was going to stand us a better place. Stuart is a fantastic bowler. He understands the reasons why.’
‘We lost, but I’m not going to look back with any regrets. It shows that we’re in a great position to pick so many bowlers and leave someone like Stuart out.’
England must now win both games at Emirates Old Trafford to regain the Wisden Trophy they lost in the Caribbean early last year. And they must put right a batting display in which they collapsed twice after the dismissal of Stokes, on each occasion by his opposite number Jason Holder for a score in the forties.
Jason Holder described the triumph as ‘massive’ and said beating England is ‘no easy feat’
‘We know we’ve got two games left and we’re going to set a target of winning this series 2-1,’ said Stokes. ‘We know what we’ve got to do, which is to win the next two games. I’ll look back on this disappointed not to win, but able to say that I’ve captained England.’
Holder, who has now led West Indies to victory over England in four of his seven Tests against them, described the four-wicket triumph as ‘massive’.
He added: ‘To beat England in England is no easy feat. They’re a massive unit in their own backyard and I feel proud of the way we’ve performed.
‘I woke up this morning and just wished I could fast-forward to the end of the day with us winning. Roston [Chase] and Jermaine settled our nerves, but credit to England, who threw a lot at us.’
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