FORMER England captain Andrew Flintoff believes uncapped Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes should be given a given a chance to prove himself in the forthcoming Ashes series.
It has been a standout year for Stokes, who was one of Durham’s star performers in their LV= County Championship title-winning campaign and impressed in the one-day international series against Australia last month.
Stokes initially came through the ranks at Chester-le-Street as a batsman who could bowl, yet it has been his form as a seamer that has earned rave reviews both domestically and internationally in 2013.
He is vying with Yorkshire duo Gary Ballance and Jonny Bairstow for the number six spot in England’s batting line-up although Flintoff thinks the balance Stokes can give Alastair Cook’s men with his bowling, where he could be used as the fourth seamer, gives him the edge.
“I’d play him , I’d have him in the team,” Flintoff said.
“He can bowl at 90mph and can bat at six, it’s a no-brainer for me.
“Over there the bowlers have to earn their wickets and just having that other seamer who can bowl to give Jimmy (James Anderson) a rest, give (Stuart) Broad a rest and whoever the other one may be (the third seamer) is invaluable.
“And he can bat, I’d get him in straight away.”
England have not had an influential all-rounder in their line-up since two-time Ashes winner Flintoff himself announced his retirement from all forms of the game in 2009.
Yet he is convinced that Stokes can play a starring role if the hierarchy show faith in him.
“I think they’ve got to give someone a go at it and I’d give Stokes a go,” said Flintoff.
“Everything’s about confidence, the people around him can put faith in him.
“Going out there and starting well in the warm-up games can give him confidence going into the series. He’s good enough to do well so I’d get him in.”
ANDREW Flintoff was talking to the Press Association in his role as an ambassador for Britain’s Biggest bookmaker William Hill. Keep up to date with Fred’s Ashes views throughout the Ashes at www.williamhill.com.