THIS is potentially a dangerous column for both Durham and England.
The following words put one of our key players at huge risk of not being able to fit through the dressing room door due to the size of his head!
Ben Stokes is big-headed enough as it is, so we’ll have to choose our words carefully to stop it from swelling even further.
But his bowling performance on Monday was sensational and swung our County Championship match against Sussex firmly in our favour.
Ben’s been finding his feet the last couple of games and by his own admission probably hasn’t been at his best.
But on Monday, his bowling was outstanding, and he turned the game on its head.
That was him back to full pelt, swinging the ball at pace both outside and in. We were glad he was on our team and not having to face him.
Different players take a different amount of time to get back into the groove after a spell on the sidelines.
Ben had been out of action for a while and you could tell when he came back he wasn’t 100 per cent.
He didn’t have that full confidence in his bowling and maybe his body and his fitness too.
But on Monday, that confidence was back, and he was steaming in and letting it go superbly.
It was great to see, and well deserved for all the hard work Ben’s put in over the last few weeks.
He was desperate to get into the England squad again sooner rather than later and he maybe pushed himself a bit.
There was a lot of pressure on Stokesy coming back from the Ashes as ‘the great white hope’ of English cricket and he did everything that he could to get back.
When you’re striving and desperate to get back, sometimes you can try that little bit too hard.
You need to try and find what works for you, what works for your body, and getting back into a rhythm, whether it be over a four-day game or one-dayers.
As a batsman, it’s the old cliche about taking each ball as it comes; it’s about hitting those right areas as a bowler and knowing that if you keep doing things right it will click into place.
You do try to chase it, though, and Stokesy was guilty of that from time to time, but we’ve all been there – though maybe not the old-stager Breesey anymore!
But England’s loss on Monday was our gain.
When Stokesy was taking his seven wickets, England were struggling to bowl out Sri Lanka.
Stokesy is great with tail enders, knocking them over with swing and pace which is what you need – and what England probably needed too.
He’s the kind of guy who is built for international level.
He hasn’t got much experience yet himself, but he’s a big stage player.
Ben’s got the kind of positive personality where he loves a challenge and backs his own ability. He’s not short of confidence, without being over-confident.
Let’s just leave it there though – or that big head might actually explode!
CAPTAIN Cook needs to be given more time to sail England through some choppy waters.
It’s always easy to sit in the comfy seats and complain.
Don’t forget, there wasn’t much being said about his captaincy when England were winning the Ashes on home soil last year.
I can see where some people are coming from, saying he’s too conservative.
He’s had a bit of criticism from Shane Warne about the declaration in the First Test against Sri Lanka, and not having enough time to bowl them out.
England have got themselves into some good positions in the series and that’s added to the pressure when they’ve not capitalised on them.
But the England bowling unit isn’t what it was.
Yes, you’ve still got two main men in Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, but the backbone of the attack was Graeme Swann.
He used to get lots of first innings wickets then chip in with some in the second innings too.
Chris Jordan has only played a couple of Tests, and Liam Plunkett has done well on his return, while Moeen Ali has come in and picket up a couple of important wickets, but you still only have two main bowlers.
It’s not a tried and tested attack at international level – it’s largely unproven, and you can see that has put some doubts in Cook’s mind such as with the declaration at Lord’s.
There’s a lot of new guys in the side too on the batting front, and obviously Cook’s form isn’t as good as it should be either.
So there’s a lot going on and it’s something of a transitional period.
The last thing England need is a knee-jerk reaction. Cook needs to be given the India series.
Besides, there aren’t many credible alternatives out there.