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'Stokes can replace Pietersen'

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 26-05-2015 skysports.com

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Ben Stokes will replace Kevin Pietersen as England’s “box office” player according to Paul Collingwood.

Former England Test star Collingwood is a Durham team-mate of Stokes, and has watched him come through the ranks.

Stokes was man-of-the-match in England’s stunning 124-run victory over New Zealand at Lord’s. He scored 92 off 94 balls in his first innings, coming in with the team on the ropes at 30-4.

And he smashed 101 off 85 balls second time round – the fastest Test century ever seen at the home of cricket – before taking a crucial 3-38 as the Kiwis were bowled out on the final day.

Pietersen’s hopes of returning to the England fold appear to have been ended by the ECB’s new Director of Cricket Andrew Strauss. And Collingwood believes Stokes is his natural heir as England’s ‘box office’ star.

“Without KP in the side it gives other players the chance to fill his boots. The emergence of Ben Stokes…we’ve seen an amazing performance by him under pressure,” Collingwood told Sky Sports News HQ.

“Hopefully the whole cricketing public can get behind the team and enjoy the brand of cricket they are playing, which is great.

“Ben has done it for us time and time again for us. He’s a great character to have in the dressing room – he’s a really strong guy. He is a match-winner, it’s as simple as that, whether it be with bat or ball. He’s can do spectacular things in the field as well. He can go out there and win matches.

“The England team were under a lot of pressure in the first innings – a lot of people forget his important knock in the first innings. To get the team up to that kind of score with Joe Root (who scored 98)…and then the second innings was phenomenal.

He’s such a clean striker of the ball. Once it gets through the infield, it’s four runs. He’s a fast scorer – he really is box office.

“We miss him in the Durham dressing room but it’s great for England fans.”

Another Durham star, fast bowler Mark Wood, impressed at Lord’s, taking 3-93 in the first innings and removing the Kiwis’ lynchpin BJ Watling in the second innings.

Collingwood said: “To have someone bowling at 93mph…he’s a great lad. He can bowl fast – he can reverse swing the ball, he’s got good skills…but we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg with Mark Wood.”

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