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Should Ben Stokes move up order for England in T20 internationals?

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England star Ben Stokes faced just 56 balls across the five T20 internationals against India after batting at No 5 or No 6; Rob Key says England could look to push all-rounder up the order like Rajasthan Royals have done in the Indian Premier League

Ben Stokes faced just 56 balls in the five-match T20I series against India

Ben Stokes faced just 56 balls in the five-match T20I series against India

Ben Stokes is so often a talismanic figure for England – but how can they get more out of him in T20 international cricket?

The all-rounder is still to hit a fifty in 34 T20Is and, due to his spot in the middle order, has not been required to bat in three of his last six matches and faced only 56 balls in the 3-2 series defeat to India.

After Stokes scored 14 from 12 balls after coming in at No 6 during England’s defeat to India in the fifth T20I, Sky Sports’ Nasser Hussain and Rob Key pondered whether he should be moved higher up the order.

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Stokes scored a century opening the batting for Rajasthan Royals in the 2020 IPL in the UAE Stokes scored a century opening the batting for Rajasthan Royals in the 2020 IPL in the UAE

Hussain said: “The one grey area is Stokes. You can’t give him an excuse as, at the moment, he has not transferred any of his other form into international T20 cricket.

“Dawid Malan is the No 1-ranked T20 batsman in the world – that’s a fact – so should Ben, who has not yet done it in T20 international cricket, take over from some one who has?

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“That’s a big call to make but we know with [England captain Eoin] Morgan that if he has to make those calls, he will, even on the eve of the tournament.

“Before the 50-over World Cup, it was ‘thank you very much, David Willey, you’re done’. After the World Cup final, it was ‘Liam Plunkett, you are still bowling well but thank you, you’re done’.

“Morgan will be ruthless so it’s can they find a different role for Stokes or do they stick with what they have got?

“All I would say is that if you get to a World Cup semi-final or final and you need 20 off two overs, you wouldn’t want a different character out there than Stokes..

“Someone who has bottle and fight to get you over the line. He wins you big games.”

The role Ben has played for us in the middle order when he has had opportunities to play, he’s done a really exceptional job. It’s actually an extremely difficult role to fulfil and it’s a role that he’s taken on board and embraced. His contributions when he’s had the opportunity have been really good.

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Eoin Morgan on Ben Stokes

Stokes has scored two IPL hundreds, one opening the batting for Rajasthan Royals in 2020 and another having come to the crease inside two overs for Rising Pune Supergiant in 2017.

Key added: “It is very hard for Stokes. The people that bat six are Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, people who can slog yorkers out of the ground.

“I’m not sure Stokes, as good as he is, does exactly that but he can bat early on when the field is up in the powerplay and then go and destroy sides.

“He doesn’t strike me as someone absolutely happy to come in with five overs to go at No 6.

“When he has done well in the IPL, it’s been up the order. Even when he got a hundred at No 5, he came in in the first two overs.”

Stokes will soon be back in IPL action for Rajasthan with the 2021 season of the tournament starting on April 9, live and exclusive on Sky Sports.

Malan, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan are among the other England batsmen playing in the competition, which Morgan says will be vital as his men prepare for the T20 World Cup in India in October.

“Our middle order probably hasn’t fired as well as we’d have liked, we weren’t as sharp as we normally are,” said Morgan, after England were limited to 188-8 in reply to India’s 224-2 after collapsing from 130-1 at Narendra Modi Stadium.

Dawid Malan - the No 1-ranked T20I batsman in the world - will play in the IPL for the first time having been signed by Punjab Kings Dawid Malan – the No 1-ranked T20I batsman in the world – will play in the IPL for the first time having been signed by Punjab Kings

“Taking advantage of the IPL is going to be huge because as a team and as individuals we don’t want to stand still, we want to continually move forward. The experiences over the next couple of months are probably the most valuable.

“My message is always to go to these tournaments and try to be the best player of the tournament because if that’s always your goal, if you fall short normally you will continually be improving.”

Watch England’s first ODI against India, in Pune, live from 7.30am on Tuesday on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event. You will also be able to follow text commentary and in-play clips through our live blog on skysports.com and the Sky Sports app.

Watch India v England on Sky Sports Cricket for just £18 extra a month

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