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No ‘bad blood’ between me and Rabada, says Ben Stokes

(Photo: Getty Images)

By Adam Ellis

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has dismissed talk of any ill feelings between him and South Africa pace bowler Kagiso Rabada ahead of the third Test at the Oval on Thursday.

Rabada missed the second Test, which saw the Proteas level the series at 1-1, after being banned for aggressively telling Stokes to ‘f*** off’ in the wake of claiming his wicket.

But the England vice-captain said it was in the nature of fast bowlers to be aggressive, explaining: “It is part of him as a cricketer and why he has been successful.”

“The ICC were the people who locked down on that and gave him that ban but I don’t hold any grudges about people wanting to be like that.

“It shows how much they care and want to perform for their country.

“I have got that side to me as well, so I don’t think there is ever going to be any bad blood if he chooses to go on like that.”

Ben Stokes has been no stranger to heated exchanges in the past, having fun with Marlon Samuels, clashing with Virat Kohli, and seeking to rile Tamim Iqbal over the course of his England career. With England’s heavy 340-run defeat to Faf du Plessis’ side at Trent Bridge, the 26-year-old said his focus lies squarely on getting back on track in the four-match series.

“I think the biggest question is just being able to adapt better,” citing England’s poor batting display, “we obviously didn’t quite get to grips with that in that last innings.

“So, I think the quicker we can learn to adapt to different situations, the better off we will be.

“No one is ever going to get questioned in that changing room about their fight and desire of wanting to perform for England.

“It is 1-1, both games have been pretty one-sided, and we just need to make sure we come out here and put in a better performance than we did at Trent Bridge and get on the front foot in the series.”

Essex batsman Tom Westley has already been confirmed by the ECB selectors as the replacement for the injured Gary Ballance at no 3. Next on their agenda for the selectors is whether to select an extra batsman in place of spinning all-rounder Liam Dawson for the 100th Test the Oval has hosted in its history.

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