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Stokes relishing pivotal roles

Ben Stokes wants to be England’s go-to man with the ball at the business end of one-day internationals.

A consistent ray of light during a gruelling tour of Australia, it was somewhat inevitable that Stokes would be instrumental when Alastair Cook’s men broke their duck Down Under.

The Durham all-rounder looked at home in his new number three role, amassing 70 in an authoritative display of clean hitting that laid the foundations for Jos Buttler’s late fireworks and an imposing total of 316 for eight.

England’s successful defence of their score owed much to Stokes’ haul of 4-38 – his victims including James Faulkner, who bludgeoned five decisive sixes off the 22-year-old’s bowling during Australia’s improbable one-wicket win in the second ODI in Brisbane.

But Stokes took a pragmatic view of that experience and was more than happy to have the ball thrust into his hand by Cook to check the hosts’ latest victory bid.

"I think he (Cook) knows that I want to do that. We chatted about it and I said: 'Yeah, I want to bowl at the end',” Stokes said.

Ben Stokes once again impressed with bat and ball as England beat Australia by 57 runs in the fourth one-day international at Perth yesterday

"I've done that role for Durham in the one-day stuff over the last few years. It's not like I'm not used to it.

"This time I've got wickets, last time I did that it didn't go so well. It can go one way or the other.

"I always want to be involved in (the key moments). I want to try and influence the result for whatever team I'm playing for."

“It didn't go well the last time I got the ball chucked to me. I really wanted to change the way that went and made sure we got over the line."

The absence of established performers such as Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen has paved the way for Stokes’ promotion up the order and he is relishing the opportunity to build an innings, having started the current series in the more limited role of providing lower-order contributions from number eight.

"I've really enjoyed the opportunity to bat at three," he added

"It is nice being out there and trying to bat for as long as I can. It gives you added experience."

"Playing with no fear is probably the best way to go about it.

"If you've got any doubts in your mind you are more than likely going to get out."

Fellow all-rounder Glenn Maxwell was one of the men to fall to Stokes as Australia’s chase flailed and he was singled out for criticism by coach Darren Lehman,

"It got down to 95 off 11 or 12 (overs) and in this day and age you should get those," Lehmann said.

"It was disappointing to lose five for 50 or whatever it was and fall short. So our blokes - and Maxwell - he's got to understand, we've got to play better cricket.

"He understands he has got to be a better cricketer for us to get to where we want to get to. He's got the talent, but the way we want him to play he's got to finish those games off for us.

"He's a great young kid and the thing is he realised his mistake from last night and he owned up to that. He's got to get better.”

Stokes has been fined 15 per cent of his match fee for directing offensive language at Faulkner in the 42nd over yesterday.

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