Ben Stokes has changed English cricket forever, warns Alastair Cook

Testing times: Former England captain Alastair Cook practising in the nets at the WACA: PA
Testing times: Former England captain Alastair Cook practising in the nets at the WACA: PA

Alastair Cook has said English cricket will never be the same again following Ben Stokes’ arrest.

England’s off-field behaviour has been under the microscope throughout this Ashes tour, with incidents involving first

Jonny Bairstow and then Lions batsman Ben Duckett leading to claims there is a drinking culture within the squad.

That has been strenuously denied by most players here but Cook, who is due to play his 150th Test this week, warned his team-mates they are now subject to the same scrutiny as top footballers because of the Stokes situation.

Stokes was not selected for this Ashes tour following his arrest after an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in ­September and Cook, England’s Test captain from 2012 to earlier this year, said: “The world changed for the England cricket team in September. Since the ‘Stokesy thing’, things have changed.

“It’s sad in one sense because, a bit different from football, we’ve always been able to go under the radar a bit, enjoy playing cricket for England and also enjoy seeing the ­country we’re touring.

“I don’t think we’re being painted fairly on our culture but the world has changed since September and it’s up to us to adjust quickly. We can’t afford any more mistakes

because we understand the stakeholders, the ECB, the sponsors are trying to encourage kids to play cricket, and that’s what we want.

“The last two incidents [involving Bairstow and Duckett] have proven there is very little margin for error when you’ve had a beer. To say we’ve got a drinking culture in this team is very unfair but we’ve got to smarten up and do it quickly, because there is too much at stake.

Ben Stokes is currently playing for Canterbury in New Zealand (Getty Images)
Ben Stokes is currently playing for Canterbury in New Zealand (Getty Images)

“It’s not just about one bloke’s career. You always want to leave the side and the England cap in a good place after every tour and every game. People pay a lot of money to come and watch us here and at home — the support we get is fantastic — so we’ve got to build that trust back up.

“Going back to 2013, when we won the Ashes series 3-0 in England, there was a bit of a disconnect between the players and the public. In the last three or four years we’ve made a massive effort to get that connection back.

“Clearly, the last couple of months have damaged that and we’ve got to rebuild it because it’s so important to the players. We’ve got to understand that quickly.”

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