Cautious Stokes hopes to raise Durham’s confidence

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BEN Stokes is hoping a TON of confidence can help propel Durham up the County Championship table, writes Gary Foster.

Stokes followed up his century in last week’s home defeat to Lancashire with a measured knock of 66 against Warwickshire yesterday.

The all-rounder believes his more cautious approach is paying off.

“Getting that hundred has definitely filled me with a lot more confidence.

“I’ve been very careful with the way I’ve gone about my batting in the last few weeks. I think its definitely shown in my performances.”

Stokes, who has built a reputation on his explosive batting exploits, says no pressure has been put on him to curb his ways.

The Durham man, who turned 21 on Monday, says his recent approach to life at the crease is something of a coming of age.

“It’s been a personal decision the way I’ve gone about it,” he said. “Not having a good start to the season has matured me in a way. Knowing if you stick in and get through the hard periods things start getting a lot easier and the runs come a lot better and quicker.”

Stokes wasn’t alone in his cautious approach on a stop start, rain-affected opening day of the championship clash with Warwickshire at the Emirates ICG.

Disappointing early wickets saw the hosts reduced to 23-2 – Mark Stoneman and Gordon Muchall the departing batsmen.

Cue a defiant Stokes, who teamed up with Will Smith (47) for a partnership of 109.

Having taken just 170 balls to reach 121 against Lancashire the previous week, the all-rounder was restrained reaching 66 from 139 balls, before playing on to a Chris Wright delivery as he tried to remove his bat from danger.

While it was a disappointing way to depart, Stokes believes his hard work still paid off. He added: “It’s always satisfying getting runs and it’s been nice to play a different role to the one I have in the last two seasons.”

Warwickshire’s bowlers continued to be met by resistance as Dale Benkenstein and Paul Collingwood combined to put on a stand of 73, before the South African lobbed an easy catch to Wright off the bowling of Chris Woakes, having reached 40.

At the close, Durham were 228-5 with former England player Collingwood unbeaten on 43.