London: Andrew Strauss has urged Ben Stokes to keep his feet on the ground after the England all-rounder earned hero status with his role in their incredible World Cup final triumph.
Stokes scored 84 not out against New Zealand at Lord’s on Sunday to force a Super Over in which he and Jos Buttler pushed England towards their first World Cup crown.
Former England captain Strauss believes Stokes will be deluged with demands on his time and he warned the star not to be distracted by his sudden spike in popularity.
“What will be hard for Ben going forward is the levels of adulation he’ll receive,” Strauss said yesterday.
“That was a burden for Freddie Flintoff. He often lived up to it and that was great, but increasingly you are under more and more pressure to be the man every time you play and that is a big burden.
Stokes’ man-of-the-match display went some way towards making up for the 2016 T20 World Cup final when Carlos Brathwaite hit him for four sixes in the final over to grab an unlikely victory for the West Indies.
It also came less than a year after Stokes was found not guilty of affray following a late-night brawl in Bristol, an incident that forced him to miss an Ashes series and placed his future in doubt.
Strauss was director of England cricket at the time and was present when Stokes was released from his police cell before helping guide him through the aftermath.
Strauss, who yesterday announced that Lord’s will be turning red for day two of the second Ashes Test on August 15 in aid of the Ruth Strauss Foundation, sensed early on that the 28-year-old would go on to flourish despite the controversy.
“You know what, I just remember going down to the police station with Ben. I spent a long time with Clare, his wife, waiting for him to come out of the jail,” he said. “What struck me as soon as he came out was actually his character. Because he stood up and said, ‘I’ve got this horribly wrong. I apologise sincerely for what I’ve done here’.
“From that moment on, I thought this was going to be a good thing for him. It was very hard to know which way it was going to go. People can go two ways after something like that happens to them.
“Anyone who knows Ben and who has played with him knows what an incredible person he is to have on your team.
“What we’ve seen is some of those rough edges just smoothed a little bit over the last 12 or 18 months without him losing that incredible desire and hunger to win.
“It’s an easy story to say what happened in the World Cup final is redemption for him, but I just think it was one of English cricket’s talents showing what he can do on the greatest stage.”