England v South Africa: Ben Stokes will not change approach despite first-Test loss

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Ben Stokes says England will not change their style despite being thrashed by South Africa in the first Test.

England had won their previous four Tests with a swashbuckling style championed by captain Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.

“We have won four games in a certain manner and we have lost a game. That’s what happens,” said Stokes.

“We’re not for one minute going to look back at this and think we’re going to have to change what we’ve done.”

England were blown away for 149 before tea on the third day at Lord’s to lose by an innings and 12 runs.

Though they only managed to bat for 87.4 overs across the Test, this defeat could not be put down to the ‘Bazball’ that brought England their quartet of thrilling victories earlier in the summer.

The hosts were swept aside by a superb South Africa performance, particularly from pace bowlers Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada, who shared 13 wickets.

“South Africa were better than us on all three days. They almost didn’t allow us to play in that free-flowing way,” Stokes told Test Match Special.

“We’ve got a certain way that we want to play. We know that we can be an incredibly hard team to play against.

“This week we haven’t been able to do that and that’s absolutely fine. You can’t be great every day.”

For McCullum, the loss was his first as England coach – Stokes had previously tasted defeat standing in for then-captain Joe Root in 2020.

Rather than suggesting his side rein in their attacking approach, McCullum said they were “maybe a touch timid”.

“I don’t think you become a bad cricket team in one game,” he added.

“We will try and maintain a level head to things and work out some areas where we can be a bit better. We won’t overreact, that’s for sure.”

The win puts South Africa 1-0 up in the three-Test series and underlined their position as leaders of the World Test Championship.

Proteas skipper Dean Elgar had previously called England’s freewheeling approach to Test cricket “unsustainable”.

Speaking after his side’s win on Friday, the opener said: “I’m still a purist when to comes to Test cricket. I don’t stuff around with too many styles of play. I think the game demands and deserves it.

“It was a team effort, there were a few standout performances but everyone had played their part, including the guys who weren’t playing.”

England now must avoid defeat in the second Test at Old Trafford, starting on Thursday, to avoid a series loss. The third and final Test at The Oval is at the beginning of September.

“We’ve got two games left, if we hold on to this for too long, and carry any baggage from this game into the next game, we’re already one step behind,” said Stokes.

“I’d just like to ride the wave of whatever comes.”

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