Former England skipper Paul Collingwood has talked up the international prospects of Kiwi-born Durham teammate Ben Stokes, who made his test debut for the English in the recent Ashes whitewash in Australia.
Stokes, the son of former Kiwi league international Gerard Stokes, was one of the rare bright spots in England's embarrassing 5-0 series defeat.
In his four tests during the series, the 22-year-old took 15 wickets for England at 32.80 and scored 279 runs at 34.87, including a gritty 120, England's only century of the Ashes, in Perth.
Collingwood, who is coaching Scotland at the current Cricket World Cup qualifiers in New Zealand, is Stokes' county captain for Durham, and believes the Christchurch-born all-rounder has a massive international future.
"He's a serious, serious talent," Collingwood told Sunday News. "I've played with Ben at Durham, and captained him for the last couple of years.
"I've got to say, he's always been someone I can throw the ball to when the pressure situations are on, and we need wickets.
"He's also someone who never shies away from a challenge or a fight out in the middle. His batting has been developing all the time.
"He's a serious, serious all-round cricketer. You don't want to put these guys under too much pressure, but the potential that he has is absolutely huge," Collingwood said.
"He could do some wonderful things for this England team in the future. He's done a lot of wonderful things for Durham, but he has got his sights set on something bigger than Durham at the moment - and that's playing for his country."
Collingwood admitted England's Ashes series was incredibly poor, but said the shocking series defeat could herald a new era for the side, with the introduction of new players like Stokes and leg-spinner Scott Borthwick.
"England have been hit very, very hard," the 68-test veteran said. "From top to bottom, Australia just played better cricket over the five test matches.
"[England] will have to find a way to re-group, re-build and bounce back - but I'm sure there's a lot of strong characters in and around the dressing that are looking forward to that challenge," he said.
"In many ways, it is exciting because it's almost watershed - and a new era that will come up."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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