A few choice words from Andy Flower helped Ben Stokes refocus after hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons, the all-rounder has said.
Ben Stokes has told of how a dressing down from Andy Flower prior to being sent home in disgrace from an England Lions tour in 2013 proved a catalyst in turning around his fortunes.
Stokes received a written warning from the English and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) following a night out early in the tour of Australia three years ago, only to then break a curfew.
That prompted the ECB to take decisive action and Flower – England coach for five years before his departure in 2014 – packed no punches in his assessment of Stokes' off-field antics, with some choice words fuelling the 25-year-old all-rounder to prove him wrong.
Stokes has gone on to become a key figure for his country, but knows things could have turned out very differently.
In an extract of his autobiography 'Firestarter: Me, Cricket and the Heat Of The Moment' serialised in the Daily Mail, Stokes said: "The embarrassment of being sent home made me think hard about where I was at. I knew I was not going to get where I wanted doing stuff like that.
"You don't want to play for England. You just want to p*** it up the wall with your mates and have a good time.
"This was the summary of Andy Flower, a multiple Ashes-winning coach and one who had taken his team to the No 1 ranking in Test cricket, delivering the news that I was to be sent home from the England Lions tour of Australia in February 2013.
"It hit me like a sledgehammer. He was so clinical. So cold.
"He had come to his conclusion. The England coach was questioning whether I would ever play for his team again, summing me up as a waste of space and sanctioning my removal from a tour involving England's next-best players.
"Andy had really riled me, made me out to be some kind of little kid, messing about with his mates. Not a serious cricketer with an international future. I’ll show you.
"Of course, as I later realised, that was exactly what Andy wanted and I confess his words that day stuck with me and always will. Over subsequent months, playing under him for England, I came to realise he said it to be provocative, to try to make sure that I got my priorities right.
"Being told I had ventured beyond my last chance proved a real shot across the bows."