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England skipper Stokes wants fast pitches for Ashes showdown

England captain Ben Stokes has warned Australia that he has asked for “fast, flat wickets” to take the attack to the Ashes holder later this year.

Stokes is hoping to lead England to its first Test series victory over Australia since 2015 and he believes pitch conditions will be crucial.

The all-rounder wants groundsmen at Edgbaston, Lord’s, Old Trafford, Headingley and The Oval – the five venues staging Ashes Tests – to produce the kind of quick pitches that will allow England to use the aggressive gameplan he has deployed with great success since taking over as captain.

“We’ve been very clear with the ground-staff around England about what type of wickets we want and they’ve been very responsive to us, which is good,” Stokes said on Sky Sports on Tuesday.

“We want fast, flat wickets. We want to go out there and score quickly. I’m smiling because I’m looking forward to it.

“There’s no point changing just because we’re coming into an Ashes series. Every player knows the Ashes is where everything ramps up a bit – pressure, exposure, all kinds of stuff – but we’ll just keep sticking to what we do.”

Stokes has spoken frequently of his willingness to lose in pursuit of victory.

He pushed that philosophy to the brink against New Zealand in February when England lost the series decider in Wellington by one run having declared its first innings and enforced the follow-on.

A draw would have settled the series in England’s favour but Stokes said he would not settle for stalemate, even with the Ashes on the line.

“Hold me to it. Every game I play this summer will be to produce a result,” he said.

“I’m not going to change anything just because it’s the Ashes. I’m not going to change for anything or any situation, because then I’m not being true to myself and what I’ve done over the last year.”



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