Why the Ashes needed Warner and Stokes

David Warner and Ben Stokes
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Betting Expert, James Pacheco

Last updated on 18th November 2021

Published: 18/11/2021

Categories: Cricket, News

A month or so ago, there was every chance that neither David Warner nor Ben Stokes would play any part in The Ashes whatsoever.

For very different reasons they’d had horrible years and to twist the knife in that little bit further, both looked like they’d miss out on the contest that they probably both love to play in more than in any other.

Let’s look at why 2021 was such a hard year for the pair of them, what’s happened since and why The Ashes needs them as much as they need The Ashes. We’ll also include some odds for online cricket betting too!

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David Warner

  • Age: 35
  • Role: Opening batsman
  • Career Test Record: 86 matches, 48.09 average, 24 centuries, 30 fifties
  • Ashes Record: 23 matches, 39.39 average, 3 centuries, 12 fifties

Warner’s horrible year up to November

Injury ruled Warner out from the First and Second Tests against India in December 2020. When he was fit to play, he returned to play in the 3rd Test in early January in Sydney, which ended in a draw.

He scored just 5 and 13 in his two knocks.

In the Fourth and final Test of the Series, he did manage an important 48 in the second innings, after being out for just 1 in the first innings.

Australia lost both the Test and consequently, the Series. Not only are India wins in Australia very rare, but India were missing more than half their team in that final Test as injuries kicked in.

Those were the only two Tests he was to play in all year with Australia not taking part in any more.

They were also the only matches he was to play for Australia in the whole of 2021.

When the IPL came along in April, he was hoping to get plenty of runs under his belt and to guide the Sunrisers Hyderabad to a Playoff spot, at the very least.

Neither happened. The usually prolific opener scored two fifties in eight matches at the desperately slow strike rate of 107.

Worse still, his team kept on losing.

He was stripped of the captaincy, given to Kane Williamson, and dropped.

He then missed out on Australia selection for the tours to the West Indies and Bangladesh and returned for the second leg of the IPL in the UAE.

He was given one last chance when fellow overseas opener Jonny Bairstow opted out of the second half of the IPL.

After two more failures, Warner was dropped for good

When things got better

Many in Australia felt Warner shouldn’t have been playing in the T20 World Cup at all after such poor form leading up to it.

But skipper Aaron Finch and coach Justin Langer stood their ground and he played.

He scored 14 against South Africa, 65 against Sri Lanka. But just 1 against England and 18 when they played Bangladesh.

Then it all clicked: 89 not out against West Indies, 49 in the semi-final against Pakistan and 53 against New Zealand in the final.

As the second highest run scorer in the competition on the winning side, he walked away with the Player of the Tournament award.

Why the Ashes need Warner

First up, T20 and Test cricket are of course, like night and day. But it’s also impossible to ignore that if you’re in good form and high on confidence in one format, you’re more likely to do well in the other.

Above all, Australia need Warner. There’s been a strange lack of any quality Australian opening batsmen (besides Warner) for a good five or six years now.

Marcus Harris will open alongside him and secretly, Australia will be worried about Harris. And as it happens, Warner’s record in The Ashes isn’t as good as his overall Test record, as you can see above. His nemesis Stuart Broad has a lot to do with that.

But it’s still good enough and the sight of the feisty, determined, busy, bulldog-like Warner isn’t something England will want to see. And Warner is also something of a pantomime villain, the type you ‘love to hate’.  His presence will make The Ashes rivalry that much better.

Warner is 4.5 third-favourite with Betway to be Australia’s top series run scorer, behind Steve Smith (2.37) and Marnus Labuschagne (3.0).

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Ben Stokes

  • Age: 30
  • Role: Batting all-rounder
  • Career Test Record (Batting): 71 matches, 37.09 average, 10 centuries, 24 fifties.
  • Ashes Record (Batting): 14 matches, 38.37 average, 3 centuries, 6 fifties.

Stokes’ horrible year up to November

In December 2020, Stokes’ father Ged passed away after illness, the beginning of an extremely trying few months.

When the IPL started in April, he reported for duty at the Rajasthan Royals.

But things really didn’t go to plan. His team lost a high-scoring game to the Punjab Kings and worse still, he broke his hand.

The injury ruled him out of a white-ball Series against Sri Lanka. But at the end of the Series there was a Covid outbreak among the team and as the most senior player not to be ‘contaminated’ he was called up to play Pakistan in the next Series, also being asked to captain the side.

As it happens, he had a quiet Series himself. But England won 3-0 and he was praised for coming to his country’s rescue when needed.

He then played just two games for the Northern Superchargers in the inaugural The Hundred, before taking a break.

The reasons were two-fold: his hand still wasn’t fully recovered and he also wanted extra time off to deal with mental health issues.

He ruled himself out of the T20 World Cup and didn’t give a definitive answer regarding The Ashes.

When things got better

He still hasn’t played any competitive cricket since late July.

But on October 25 came the news every England fan and especially England skipper Joe Root wanted to hear: he was making himself available for The Ashes.

In his column for the Daily Mirror, Stokes wrote:

I had been struggling with bubble life and events off the field. I don’t want anyone to feel the way I did, because I wasn’t in a good place and I’m not afraid to admit it. I was in a real dark place and having some difficult thoughts. I was always one of those people who wouldn’t talk about how they are feeling and just keep it internal and crack on. I now realise talking is such a powerful thing and it has completely changed me.

Joe Root tweeted: “Welcome back, my friend.”

Why the Ashes need Stokes

Picking the 10 most iconic moments in Ashes history over the last (almost) 150 years isn’t easy.

But his cut to the boundary for four to seal England’s win in the Third Test against Australia at Headingley would make just about anyone’s Top 10.

Chasing 359 in the fourth innings, he scored 135 not out in what has been described as ‘one of the greatest innings of all time’ and ‘greatest ever played by an Englishman’.

As you can see from his numbers above, his Ashes record is actually slightly better than his career record.

As ever, winning in Australia is incredibly hard for England. Without Stokes, you’d think it would be near-on impossible.

But Stokes is England’s best batsman alongside Root, a key fifth bowler and their best fielder.

With him, at least they’ll have a shot.

Stokes is 4.5 second-favourite to be England’s top batsman in The Ashes at 4.5 behind skipper Joe Root, who is a very short 1.76. Prices with Betway.