England captain Ben Stokes has urged his side not to let up as they seek a series clean sweep against world Test champions New Zealand at Headingley. The hosts are 2-0 up in the three-match campaign following wins at Lord’s and Trent Bridge that were a testament to the attacking approach of the new leadership pair of Stokes and red-ball coach Brendon McCullum.
The two men are attempting to turn the tide after a dismal period for England, during which they won just one Test in 17 prior to facing the Black Caps.
England secured a series victory in style by making light of a potentially tricky last-day target of 299 in Nottingham, with Jonny Bairstow (136) and Stokes (75 not out), doing the damage.
Now all-rounder Stokes, cleared to play having missed training on Tuesday after feeling unwell, is looking for more of the same.
“I’ve said to the players this week, let’s try and think like we’re in the entertainment business rather than the sporting business,” he told an eve-of-match press conference at Headingley on Wednesday.
“There’s a reason why 20,000 people came out to watch us at Trent Bridge last week. So I set a challenge to the team to be even more fearless, positive and aggressive than last week.”
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was a helpless spectator in Nottingham after missing the match and being confined to his hotel room following a positive test for Covid-19.
“I watched a lot of it, I didn’t have too much else to do,” said Williamson.
“I don’t shout at the TV, I watch and observe. It’s always interesting seeing it from a different perspective, although it wasn’t my preferable place to be. It was interesting to watch and connect from the other side a little bit.
“England are a strong side playing well so for us it’s about improving as a side, the bigger picture… The focus is on us and wanting to be better.”