England Test captain Ben Stokes calls for fast pitches to take Ashes battle to Australia

All-rounder will stick to aggressive 'Bazball' cricket in pursuit of first series win against Aussies since 2015

England Test captain Ben Stokes will lead his side in this summer's home Ashes series against Australia. AFP
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England skipper Ben Stokes has called for "fast, flat wickets" so that his bowlers can take the attack to Australia in this summer's Ashes series.

All-rounder Stokes believes conditions will be vital as he aims to secure England's first Test series victory over Ashes holders Australia since 2015.

He has called on ground staff at the five Ashes venues – Edgbaston, Lord's, Old Trafford, Headingley and The Oval – to prepare quick pitches to suit the aggressive game-plan England have used to great effect since he took over as captain.

"We've been very clear with the ground staff around England about what type of wickets we want and they've been very responsive to us, which is good," Stokes said on Sky Sports on Tuesday.

"We want fast, flat wickets. We want to go out there and score quickly. I'm smiling because I'm looking forward to it.

"There's no point changing just because we're coming into an Ashes series. Every player knows the Ashes is where everything ramps up a bit – pressure, exposure, all kinds of stuff – but we'll just keep sticking to what we do."

Since Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum took the reins in May last year, England have played a super-aggressive brand of cricket dubbed "Bazball".

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During their tenure, England have won 10 of their 12 Test matches and Stokes has often talked about his willingness to lose a game in pursuit of a win.

That philosophy was pushed to the limits against New Zealand in February when England lost the series decider in Wellington by one run having declared their first innings and enforced the follow-on.

A draw would have settled the series in England's favour but Stokes said he would not settle for stalemate, even with the Ashes on the line.

"Hold me to it. Every game I play this summer will be to produce a result," he said.

"I'm not going to change anything just because it's the Ashes. I'm not going to change for anything or any situation, because then I'm not being true to myself and what I've done over the last year."

Updated: April 11, 2023, 6:12 PM