Ben Stokes convinced England’s white ball teams heading in the right direction

England Test captain Ben Stokes is convinced the nation’s white ball teams are heading in the right direction despite missing out on a chance to defend their T20 World Cup title.

Thursday night’s 68-run semi-final defeat by India in Guyana ended their hopes of retaining the trophy they won in 2022 and left head coach Matthew Mott and skipper Jos Buttler with questions to address in the wake of a humiliating exit from the 50-over World Cup in November last year.

However, asked if he felt England’s white ball teams were moving in the right direction under their charge, Stokes told the PA news agency: “That’s what it’s all about. Being part of sport is about growing and progressing your sides.

“That’s just like what we’re trying to do in the Test team. It’s just all about progressing and just trying to become better and better.

“It’s not shabby to say that you got through to a World Cup semi-final, I don’t think.”

That said, Buttler’s men were found wanting on a slow pitch as they attempted to chase down 172 in testing conditions against talented opponents and mustered just 103.

Stokes said: “Obviously I was gutted, watched the game, devastated for them.

“They got through in a strange way – there was a lot of weather around, but when they were put under pressure, especially towards the back end of the group stages, they showed what a good team they were.

“When you’re under pressure, that’s when good teams come together and show what they’re about. But India are a very, very good team, especially in the conditions that that sort of wicket offered, [that] gave India a huge advantage.

“But I think the way in which Jos and Motty have gone out there, I think they’ve done a great job and getting to another major trophy, albeit semi-final. We’d love to have gone all the way, but getting to a semi-final is not an easy thing to be able to do.”

England white ball head coach Matthew Mott (right) with Jos Buttler during a practice session at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton
Test skipper Ben Stokes has backed England white ball head coach Matthew Mott, right, and captain Jos Buttler, left, after their side’s T20 World Cup exit (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Stokes’ comments came as he took part in a coaching session, funded by the ECB and delivered by Chance to Shine and Northumberland Cricket coaches, with children from Hawthorn Primary School in Newcastle on Friday morning.

The initiative is designed to allow children in state schools who might otherwise not get the chance to play cricket to access the game, particularly those from challenging socio-economic backgrounds as well as those with special educational needs and disabilities.

All-rounder Stokes bowled to some of the youngsters – something he hopes to be able to do for his country once again this summer in three-match series against both the West Indies and Sri Lanka after recovering from the knee surgery he underwent in November – before taking part in a question and answer session and signing autographs.

Durham’s Ben Stokes (right) bowling on day one of the Vitality County Championship match against Lancashire at Stanley Park, Blackpool
Ben Stokes, right, hopes to return to England’s bowling attack after recovering from knee surgery (Tim Markland/PA)

Asked how important it is to broaden the base of young people playing cricket, Stokes said: “Massive. That’s where you learn the love for the game, as a kid and the more that can be done to give opportunities to schools, to clubs, to the younger people to be able to access the sport, that’s what needs to be done.

“I was very fortunate and very lucky that the school I went to and where I lived as a young lad, I had that on my doorstep pretty much.

“What you don’t want to do is let a potential superstar to slip through the system because of opportunity, so the more that can be done to give opportunities to kids and in schools, the better.”