England's Stokes is happy to learn from best


All-rounder Ben Stokes would like to see more of his England team-mates join him in the Indian Premier League.

"South Africa are one of the best teams in the world", he added.

'Playing for England is always the main priority in decisions like that, it was made very clear at the start of the tournament.

The 25-year-old nearly steered them to victory although he had been called to an England training camp by the time they played and lost the final by just one run, but he believes the experience would benefit any of his team-mates.

"We are just going to try to do what we have been doing over that last two years which is to go out there and perform to the best of our capabilities and always want to be on the front foot", he added.

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But while Stokes missed last weekend's finale after returning home for England's build-up to next month's Champions Trophy, he lived up to his A$2.8million price tag and billing as the most expensive overseas player in IPL history during the 14 group matches he played.

Stokes was named the competition's most valuable player after scoring 316 runs and taking 12 wickets for the eventual runners-up, but was happy to accept advice from an unlikely Antipodean ally in the nets. "They'll queue up for five hours just to see Dhoni walk out on to the pitch".

"The guy I'll actually be playing against in the Ashes was helping me, something you'd never fathom when we're playing against each other. You would hope that coming away from that tournament all parts of my game have got better".

"To be part of a competition like that was an wonderful experience - the biggest Twenty20 competition in world cricket - [as was] being able to share a changing room with the greatest players in the world, the greats of the game of cricket", he said.

Former England skipper Kevin Pietersen, commentating at the IPL, decried Stokes' absence in favour of "beers in Spain" but Stokes, who captioned a video of a team gym session using the same three words, stood his ground. If we'd done something like that in England I don't think there would have been a bean said.

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In the first season, the Sanji Goenka-owned franchise just could not get the right combination, owing to several injuries to key players, but in the second season, thanks to a full-strength squad, they managed to string consistent performances and make it to the final, where they lost by 1 run to the Mumbai Indians. "But we did a lot of fitness work, fielding work and team bonding stuff like golf in the morning and a quiz at night time".

The main benefit is that "all in all I think my areas are a lot better and tighter than they have been recently in one-day cricket, which came down from just working exclusively with [the bowling coach] Eric Simons over the six weeks I was there".

The effectiveness of that camp will be measured not by public opinion on Twitter but by whether England can bring their A game first to a testing three-match series against South African and then the Champions Trophy.

"They're a very strong side and the Champions Trophy is the eight best in the world".

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