‘Little bit of ego taking over’ - Tim Paine reflects on Ben Stokes’ bold Birmingham declaration on Day 1 of first Ashes Test

England declared on Day 1 of the first Test when they were batting on 393 runs with Joe Root on the strike.

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Tim Paine and England Test Team
Tim Paine and England Test Team. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The first Test of the Ashes 2023 ended with Australia clinching a famous victory against England. Winning the game by just two wickets on Day 5 of the match, a lot of questions were asked of England skipper Ben Stokes, who decided to declare the innings in the latter stages of Day 1.

England were batting on 393/8 on Day 1 of the first Test, and it is also worth noting that ace batter Joe Root was unbeaten on 118 when the innings was declared. As Australia won the game, many experts came forward to question Stokes’ decision, with former Australian Test skipper Tim Paine being one of them.

The 38-year-old opined that there was a hint of ego involved in Stokes’ decision to declare the innings prematurely. With Joe Root on strike, the innings was declared quite early, according to Paine. 

"I think they will over time. It's going to be fascinating. I do wonder sometimes when you have got a Brendon McCullum and a Ben Stokes, who are so aggressive, who is in the change room challenging that decision to declare on Day 1?" Tim Paine told the SEN podcast, 'Whateley'. 

"Are people going to stand up and say that we're playing entertaining cricket? That's fantastic, but the best batter in the world is 120 not out at the moment, he was scoring at 5.50 an over; it wasn't like the game was treading water, it was moving and moving quickly in their favour. So I wonder how much of that is a little bit of ego taking over, and this is the way we are going to play," he added.

Ben Stokes looked to make the Aussie openers uncomfortable during the latter stages of Day 1, but the plan backfired as both Usman Khawaja and David Warner survived the attack and took the game into Day 2.

Furthermore, the move surely did not go as planned for England, as Pat Cummins’ brilliance with the bat on Day 5 led Australia to a magnificent win. 

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