Scottish Daily Mail

Stokes tells timid team it’s time to act tough

- Lawrence Booth reports from Mumbai

BEN STOKES has urged his England team-mates to rediscover their fighting spirit after the shock defeat by Afghanista­n — and remains on course to play his first game of the World Cup against South Africa on Saturday. Head coach Matthew Mott admitted his side ‘didn’t fire a shot’ during last Sunday’s 69-run defeat in Delhi, and needed to relocate their confidence at the start of a title defence that has produced just one win out of three. He revealed it was Stokes — having watched the Afghanista­n game from the dugout during his continued recovery from a hip injury — who was the first player to speak up during the dressing-room post-mortem. With captain Jos Buttler busy doing media duties, Mott had initially addressed the players, telling them England had fought their way out of tight spots before at previous World Cups. Telling his team they were ‘backed into a corner’ and ‘had to come out’, he added: ‘We know when we go into that mode and we’re not as forceful and aggressive, the other teams grow from that.’ Then Stokes took over. ‘He’s like the spiritual leader of the group in many ways,’ said Mott, ‘and he spoke really well about that need to assert ourselves, which he’s renowned for. ‘He said we’re normally the team that dictates terms and gets the other team unsettled, disrupted and, for whatever reason, we haven’t been able to do that. ‘It went down well, and it brought us back to controllin­g what we can control. Places like India, there are so many distractio­ns out there and if you don’t bring everyone together and get that clarity about what we can control, it can get big on you.’ Mott promised that England’s selections for the South Africa game would be ‘minor tweaks’ rather than ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’. lSouth Africa suffered their own stunning upset yesterday as they were beaten by the Netherland­s in Dharamsala. The Dutch overcame a top-order collapse to post a competitiv­e 245 for eight in the rain-shortened contest of 43 overs a side, captain Scott Edwards smashing 78 not out. South Africa were then bundled out for 207 for their first defeat of this World Cup. lKathryn Bryce’s half-century led Scotland women to a 40run win over Ireland in the first one-day internatio­nal in Spain.

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