Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes arrived in Australia last week aiming to carry on a remarkable 12-months on a personal note which has included winning the County Championship, taking a five-wicket haul for England in a ODI last month and Ashes selection.
The 22-year-old is currently in Perth as part of a 17-man squad to help retain the Ashes and even though he is yet to debut for the Test side he is already regarded as one of the countries brightest talents.
There have been reports of England legend Sir Ian Botham and current bowling coach David Saker comparing Stokes to a young Andrew Flintoff which underlines the youngster’s potential.
The hard hitting left hand batsman frequently can blast the ball out of the park while his right arm bowling regularly clocks towards 90mph on the speedometer.
The 2013 County Championship winner was actually born in New Zealand before moving to the north east of England at 12-years-old where he learned his trade as a cricketer. He burst onto the scene in 2010 with a century against India in the U19 World Cup before breaking through for Durham with bat and ball.
Stokes started to make his name for his county the following April when he returned figures of 6-68 before smashing 135 not out which included five sixes in an over, all in the same match against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl.
He was then involved in the Lions set up and has already featured in four T20 internationals and 10 ODI’s before being selected for the Ashes tour where he is expected to compete for the number six spot in the batting line-up.
The exciting prospect admits he cannot wait to pit his wits against the finest talent in the five day arena after the majority of the fitness work is now under his belt.
“I’m really looking forward to getting down to business. We’ve had the bad bit out of the way in terms of the fitness tests and things like that so I’m thoroughly looking forward to the months ahead," Stokes exclusively told GiveMeSport.
“We had a very tiring and a long day at Loughborough before we left. There was lots to do and plenty of people to catch up with about certain things but all the lads did really well and we look fit.
“There’s a couple of guys who I know better in the squad than others but I’ve either played with or against the majority of the boys so it’s not too much unfamiliarity territory.”
Stokes scored 615 runs and secured 50 wickets to help Durham to glory this summer and he admits being selected for an Ashes squad is the icing on the cake to a wonderful campaign.
“Winning the Championship was brilliant and it was the first time for myself, the season seemed to get better and better and I was pretty pleased to pick up a couple of the awards at the end of the season which is always nice and good accolades.”