Collingwood Stokes up Ben’s Test push

Ben Stokes.
Ben Stokes.
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PAUL Collingwood says Ben Stokes “belongs” at international level – and has backed the Durham all-rounder to earn an England recall for the forthcoming Test series against India, writes DANIEL PRINCE.

Stokes was in fine form this week, taking 10 wickets and recording two scores in the 30s, as Durham beat Sussex by 309 runs to climb to fourth place in the LV County Championship First Division.

The New Zealand-born 23-year-old took career-best bowling figures of 7-67 in the first innings at Chester-le-Street as he helped Durham gain control of the match.

Stokes was only playing for the county after being overlooked for England’s Test series loss to Sri Lanka, but Collingwood fully expects him to be back for the India series, which starts at Trent Bridge on July 9.

Stokes was England’s standout performer in the dismal 5-0 winter Ashes loss in Australia, and Durham captain Collingwood feels he deserves a recall.

He said: “Stokesy was in a different class altogether. That first spell in the first innings (against Sussex) was just something that we all watched and were in awe of. He just makes things happen.

“I don’t know why he wasn’t involved in the first two Test matches (against Sri Lanka), because he’s obviously fit enough to bowl and is raring to go. What he’s producing is absolutely outstanding, so he’s ready and they know what he can do in the middle.

“Hopefully they will give us a call and hopefully we do miss him, because he needs to be playing for England. That’s where he belongs.”

Durham’s victory over Sussex was their second in succession in the County Championship. Collingwood says the team is brimming with confidence.

He added: “We’re making progress, and if that means we’re on the march, so be it.

“This was certainly a high standard win, and a massive margin of victory, so we will take a lot of confidence from it.”

Durham needed just 17 balls to take the final Sussex wicket yesterday morning to secure victory.

Resuming on 41, James Tredwell edged Chris Rushworth’s second ball of the morning through the slips for four before driving the next to the cover boundary. A single took him to 50 but he was then left stranded when Lewis Hatchett edged Rushworth to third slip to wrap up a convincing Durham triumph.

Durham are next in Championship action when they tackle Division One leaders Yorkshire at Headingley on July 7-10.

Collingwood said: “I’m delighted with the performance. I wasn’t sure what to do when I won the toss and the first hour was tricky.

“But after that we steadily built the pressure and having people score runs down the order is crucial.”

Sussex coach Mark Robinson said: “We are in a relegation battle, but there are so few teams in the division you are nearly always battling near the top or bottom.

“We conceded too many runs in the first innings here after having them 148 for five.”