Eoin Morgan hailed the authenticity of Ben Stokes and believes the England captain is sincere about following through with a win-at-any-cost mentality in every Test against Australia.
Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum have transformed the Test side’s fortunes with 11 wins in 13 matches but a long-awaited Ashes showdown starting next week could challenge their aggressive approach.
However, Stokes demonstrated in New Zealand in February he is prepared to risk defeat to pursue victory and the all-rounder is adamant that will not change despite the stakes being considerably higher this summer.
And Morgan doubts there is any bluffing from Stokes, who has insisted that he would declare even if England were 2-1 up and 300 ahead with seven wickets in hand going into the last day of the final Test.
The former England white-ball skipper, speaking in his role as a Sky Sports pundit, told the PA news agency: “I don’t believe anything Ben says is for show.
“He is a man of his word, he is very authentic, you can tell it speaks volumes both on and off the field and it rings clear in the changing room, so it should be no different for anybody in the public.
“When you have a leader like that, it’s great because there’s just clear, transparent direction in where you’re going and what you want to achieve.
“A draw isn’t the task, they want to win, their eyes are on the prize and he seems to get more out of his own players that way.”
Morgan lifted England’s white-ball sides out of the doldrums to 50-over World Cup glory in 2019 – and among his team-mates was Stokes, who took charge of a Test side that had won just once in 17 matches.
While there might be some parallels in their captaincy arcs, Morgan feels that is where the similarities end.
Morgan said: “I see shades of the trend and journey that he’s going through but ultimately he’s his own leader – and he should be.
“For the best part of four or five years, England were terrible at Test match cricket, they tried fighting and being dogged, defensive and playing the long game, and that just doesn’t work. I can imagine the cornerstone of Ben’s thinking is ‘we’re not going back to playing that way’.
“You need to be as authentic as you can as a leader, particularly around the group simply because you ask everybody else to be authentic and if you’re not, people tend to notice it at various stages.”
Morgan was renowned for his shrewd thinking under intense pressure but even he draws a blank when asked how he would attempt to negate England under Stokes and McCullum.
He said: “When they get going, it’s a captain’s nightmare so I suppose stopping them getting going would be the biggest challenge. I’m not even sure how you do that. I wouldn’t put myself through it!”
Stokes, though, could meet his match in opposite number Pat Cummins, according to Morgan, who played alongside and captained the paceman at Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.
Morgan added: “Pat’s captaincy has been exceptional. I would hold him in the same regard as I hold Ben Stokes’ leadership. He is a very cool, calm customer and very intelligent for a fast bowler.
“He’s completely bucked the trend. An important part of captaincy is taking in what’s happening in the game and taking in opinions from others – that is incredibly difficult to do when you’re charging in for upwards of 20 overs per day, giving your all physically and mentally in the bowling innings.
“He has managed to find a balance. Clearly, he’s making good decisions and being able to bowl very well at the same time.”
:: Every match of the men’s and women’s Ashes will be shown live and exclusively on Sky Sports and NOW from 16th June.