England's Ben Stokes can make Ashes tour, says coach David Saker
Ben Stokes can push for selection on the Ashes tour in England's final one-dayers this summer, says coach David Saker.
Last Updated: 08/09/13 10:08am
England face Australia in the second of their five One Day Internationals at Emirates Old Trafford on Sunday, live on Sky Sports 1, with the players desperate for action following last week's wash-out in Leeds.
But with the Down Under touring party soon to be announced, the selectors will be keeping a keen eye on the country's rising talent over the next two weeks.
And Stokes, the Durham 22-year-old all-rounder, seems to be right back in favour having knuckled down since being sent home early last winter from a Performance Programme in Australia because of errant off-the-field behaviour.
"I'm sure everyone will be looking at these games a little bit with that Test squad in mind," Saker said.
"You can't always read a lot into white-ball cricket for red-ball cricket - but because there are some exciting players in our group, we're going to have a good look at them."
Saker acknowledges Stokes is an especially enticing prospect who may in time be able to bat in the top six in Tests and bowl plenty of overs too.
Genuine all-rounders are thin on the ground and the New Zealand-born Stokes appears to be in the frame for England - along with Chris Woakes, who took on the task in last month's drawn Ashes Test at the Kia Oval.
Teenage fast bowler Jamie Overton, uncapped Sussex all-rounder Chris Jordan and Irish seamer Boyd Rankin have also caught Saker's eye.
"His bowling has improved - there is no doubt about that - and we are searching for players who can play that multi-task role," Saker added about Stokes who recently hit a century for title-chasing Durham against rivals Yorkshire and taken 37 county championship wickets.
"The more all-rounders you can have in the group, that's great. "If they can do one of the roles really well - ie for him, it's bowling - that's a huge bonus."
Stokes was not required to bat in England's victory over Ireland last week, when Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara shared an unbroken double-century stand, but his very presence bred confidence.
"In Ireland, with Stokes coming in at eight, even at 40 for four there still was enough power and class there to win us the game," said Saker.
"He's the ideal sort of cricketer we want. It's a great scenario to have, that one of your top six batters can bowl.
"Chris Woakes showed signs he could probably play that role as well. With our (ODI) attack, we have two recognised seamers and Ben - and that means, whether it be in the powerplay or at the end, he is going to have to do it.
"It's a really tough ask now, with the limited fielders outside the circle - but he's good enough to do it. He's a good kid - he has that cheeky side to him, and that's really good to have in a changing room."
The learning curve is about to get steeper, but it is a challenge Saker is relishing.
"You can start coaching again," he added. "With the Jimmys and Stuarts [Anderson and Broad], you've probably done all you can with them pretty much. So to get new guys is exciting - especially when they're bigger guys.
"It is about getting to know them for one, getting some trust that way, and then just passing on cricket knowledge more than techniques. I like to see how they think about the game, and get to know how they think they can get wickets, how they work out batsmen, how they talk about things...find out what they are about."