England talisman Stokes hails new maturity as Ashes loom

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England’s Ben Stokes says learning not to try to “please everyone” helped him mature and regain the Test vice-captaincy ahead of the Ashes series starting this week.

The 28-year-old, fresh from playing a pivotal role in England’s thrilling World Cup victory earlier this month, has been appointed as Joe Root’s number two for the five-Test series against Australia.

The all-rounder was banned and fined by the England and Wales Cricket Board for bringing the game into disrepute following a street brawl in Bristol in 2017.

He missed five months of international cricket, including the last Ashes tour of Australia, before being cleared of affray in a court case in August 2018.

“One thing I have stopped trying to do is please everyone, which is probably a downfall I would look back on,” he told the BBC.

“I’m not a different person. I think maturing is the best way of saying it and having a understanding of a lot more things.”

Stokes, who has been described as the “real heartbeat” of the England team by Australia great Ricky Ponting, said now he focused solely on making those closest to him happy.

“Trying to please everyone every minute of every day was something I always tried to do,” said Stokes.

“Just try and keep the people happy who are important to you and make an impact on the way your career can go.”

Stokes, who was rested for last week’s one-off Test match with Ireland, said being stripped of the vice-captaincy had been hurtful.

“To have the role taken away was very disappointing and it did hurt,” he said. “To have it back just before the Ashes, I’m super excited. Joe (Root, Test captain) and I work really well together.

“He doesn’t have a yes man stood next to him — I’ll tell him what I think.”

The five-Test series begins on Thursday at Edgbaston, with England bidding to regain the Ashes after a 4-0 thrashing in Australia in 2017-18.

The Australians are looking to win their first series in England since 2001.