Ben Stokes reveals Stuart Broad was not happy with him in the third Test with New Zealand

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Before we were so rudely interrupted India were well on their way to defeating England in what had been an often bad-tempered Test series. But that was then and this is a very different now.

The sides resume at Edgbaston on Friday for the ‘final’ Test, shoehorning a game into a packed schedule that should have been played at Old Trafford last year, with India 2-1 up but with both sides under new management.

Captains Virat Kohli and Joe Root are back in the ranks, coaches Ravi Shastri and Chris Silverwood have moved on and England have not only stopped the rot that saw them without a victory in five series but come into this game on the crest of a crashing wave.

Ben Stokes missed the four Tests against India last year but is captain for the final match

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Stokes chose not to bowl in the third Test against New Zealand ‘because he wanted his main bowlers to realise what they can do’

It is incredible to think now Ben Stokes missed those four Tests against India last year when he was taking a break from the game to protect his mental health.

For that reason his promotion as captain ahead of this summer was greeted somewhat cautiously by many but how spectacularly, so far at least, he has banished any worries about what the demands of the job might have on him.

Stokes has not only taken to captaincy like a duck to water but, along with Brendon McCullum, has launched a revolution that could change the way Test and first-class cricket is played around the world. Even Australia were playing Bazball in Sri Lanka on Thursday.

Jasprit Bumrah will captain India for the Test at Edgbaston after Rohit Sharma caught Covid-19

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Jasprit Bumrah will captain India for the Test at Edgbaston after Rohit Sharma caught Covid-19

There Stokes was again on Thursday, defying conventional thinking when he said Zak Crawley still has his full support ‘regardless’ of what happens here and that he deliberately didn’t bowl in the first innings against New Zealand at Headingley last week because he wanted to make his bowlers ‘realise what they can do.’ Thinking out of the box does not come close to doing Stokes current mind-set justice.

‘We know we need to win this Test to draw the series from a year ago,’ said Stokes at Edgbaston. ‘But at the moment this is bigger than results. There’s more to it than that. What we managed to do over the last three weeks is reshape Test cricket with the way we played.

‘We want people to enjoy watching us. I liken it to when the one-day team started in 2015 because spectators knew if they did watch us they would see something special. I’m not really thinking about draws.’ 

One thing that is familiar about England is the sight of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad taking the new ball and the old firm will be back together on Friday, with Anderson recovered from the minor ankle injury that kept him out at Leeds. That means Jamie Overton misses out despite a promising debut with ball and, mainly, bat.

Stokes said struggling opener Zak Crawley has his full sport 'regardless' of the India Test

Stokes said struggling opener Zak Crawley has his full sport ‘regardless’ of the India Test

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James Anderson is set to return to the team after missing the third Test with New Zealand

James Anderson is set to return to the team after missing the third Test with New Zealand

‘Jamie gave the best account possible of himself and he’s someone we see as having a long and bright future with England,’ said Stokes.

‘There was a method as to why I didn’t bowl at Leeds,’ he continued. ‘Broady in particular wasn’t happy with me but I really wanted to push the bowlers as much as I could to make them realise what they can do.

‘I honestly believe bowling out the best Test team in the world with three seamers and a spinner has done everybody the world of good. I wasn’t going to mention that to anybody until the end of the Test but when Baz and Jon Lewis were saying “are you going to bowl?” I had to say “OK, this is why I’m doing it”.’ 

Then there is Crawley who, under normal circumstances, would be playing for his Test future here. Not so, according to the captain. ‘The squad we picked before we’d even played a Test was selected on the basis that every player in every position is the best in England to carry us forward the way we want to,’ said Stokes.

Brendon McCullum's 'Baz-ball' will be on show again in the final Test of the India series

Brendon McCullum’s ‘Baz-ball’ will be on show again in the final Test of the India series

‘This team is going to be given a lot of time to perform. It sounds like a broken record when I keep on saying it but I’m going to say it again – Zak has the backing of myself, Brendan and everybody in the team regardless of what happens this week.’ 

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Ben Foakes looked groggy in practice on Thursday after the bout of Covid that, along with a bad back, ruled him out of the final Test against New Zealand mid-match and Sam Billings plays on Friday with England resisting the temptation to give the gloves back to Jonny Bairstow while he is in such superlative form at five.

India, who walked out of this series on the morning of that final Test when they prioritised the IPL over Test cricket, will be led for the first time by Jasprit Bumrah, the bowler at the centre of the bad-tempered scenes at Lord’s last year. Anderson was peppered while he batted and England retaliated, to their cost, when Bumrah was at the crease.

That may have been in the same series but it seems a world away now. As England will be looking to show by continuing their ultra-positive approach in front of a full Edgbaston on Friday.

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