Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

STOKES: I'M BACK TO MY BEST; All-Rounder Warns Rivals He Is over Injury problemsI'm Finally Back to My Best, Says Stokes

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

STOKES: I'M BACK TO MY BEST; All-Rounder Warns Rivals He Is over Injury problemsI'm Finally Back to My Best, Says Stokes

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Collomosse Cricket Correspondent

BEN STOKES believes his injury problems are finally behind him after inspiring England to victory over South Africa at The Kia Oval.

Stokes damaged his knee during a one-day international against the Proteas at Headingley in May and struggled to regain top form with the ball during the first half of the summer.

But after producing a ferocious spell on the fourth afternoon which, along with his first-innings 112, earned the all-rounder the man-ofthe-match award, Stokes warned South Africa he is back to his best.

England lead the Investec Series 2-1 and need only to draw the final Test at Old Trafford, which starts on Friday, to ensure Joe Root makes a winning start to his captaincy.

Stokes said: "It's been tough work over the last six or seven weeks. Since the knee trouble I had in the one-dayers I have found it tough to get back to my best rhythm-wise, pace-wise. The big confidence boost came through bowling a long spell in the Second Test at Trent Bridge.

"I've been working really hard with Gibbo [fast bowling coach Ottis Gibson] in getting everything back to what it was last summer, when I was bowling really well.

"It is now all about making sure I keep up the hard work and don't rest on my laurels because I have had a couple of decent performances.

"During the build-up to the next Test I will be make sure I do the same things and contribute to us winning some more games.

"I try to get in a battle with the batsman, that stirs me up more than anything else."

Stokes (right) broke the back of South Africa's batting on day four when he removed Quinton de Kock and captain Faf du Plessis with successive deliveries. It helped England clinch a 239-run win yesterday and the eight-over spell reminded team-mate Stuart Broad of Andrew Flintoff at his best. …

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