Explained: The thinking behind Ben Stokes’ bowl-first policy in home Tests

Explained: The thinking behind Ben Stokes’ bowl-first policy in home Tests

Ben Stokes won the toss and elected to bowl first for the fourth time in four home Tests since becoming England’s full-time captain, continuing a trend that goes against the historical norm.

England bowled first in all but one of their home Tests in 2022. The only time they batted first, inserted by South Africa captain Dean Elgar at Lord’s, they lost by an innings as Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje ripped through the England top order on the opening morning. The reasoning given by Stokes at the toss today (June 1) was simple enough. “It looks pretty good conditions to bowl in,” said Stokes.

Looking back at what Stokes’ justifications for bowling first were in 2022, there are a couple of clear themes. The first is the most obvious one; making the most of favourable overhead conditions and then, as the summer progressed, an acknowledgement of their succe

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