And, with only one side in Ashes history having previously come back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 – Don Bradman’s team in 1936-37 – the Lord’s Test might ordinarily feel like a match that England dare not lose.
Stokes, however, insisted that he and his players are utterly unfazed by the prospect of bouncing back to square the series 1-1, and said that the public’s enthusiastic response to the team’s “Bazball” tactics will only embolden him for the rest of the campaign.
“We got a nice little break, and there’s been lots of people come up to me and saying how enthralled they were with last week,” he added, after a trip to Seaham Hall in Durham, where he is an ambassador. “They obviously wanted us to win but they just loved every minute of it.
“I had a conversation in a men’s changing-room at a spa about the game, which was a bit awkward. He said, ‘are you the cricketer or do you just look like him?’ and I was like ‘it is me’.
“He just said that ‘I went down to the pub after work and I don’t even follow cricket, but I was just going to go down for a quick few’ and he ended up having a few more, and just said he was just transfixed on the game.
“So when you hear stuff like that, it obviously makes you feel good about what we’re doing as bringing a new fanbase to the game, and it’s reaching people that it might never have reached before, so that’s what we’re about.”
The onus on opening the game up to a wider audience feels all the more important following the overnight publication of the long-awaited ICEC report into the sport’s structural inequalities.
“It was basically about ‘we’ll see’, one thing happens and might not mean it’s the end of the end of the world,” Stokes said. “You don’t know why things happen, if it’s for a good reason or not, it’s just one of those things to deal with. The team we’ve picked, I’m very confident we can walk away from here with a win. Rather than worry about things that I don’t have, I’d rather be confident in the things I do have.
“I don’t want to get misheard when I say we aren’t a results-driven team,” Stokes added. “As I said last week, losing sucks. We always want to win every game we play, but if we don’t come away with the win at the end, then let’s move onto the next game and let’s keep going.”