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'Stokes is the real heartbeat of England' - Ponting identifies the key Ashes threat
The Ashes

'Stokes is the real heartbeat of England' - Ponting identifies the key Ashes threat

Ricky Ponting feels Ben Stokes' newfound maturity can allow him to replicate Andrew Flintoff's success for the upcoming Ashes series.

The former Australian skipper believes World Cup hero Stokes possesses the undying spirit which makes him the "real heartbeat" of his team.

Stokes was at the helm of England's historic win in the World Cup final at Lord's, where he contributed an unbeaten 84 before coming out to bat in the Super Over and strike a valuable boundary.

Stokes' calm stay at the crease for an extended period of time epitomizes a remarkable transformation in his temperament as he was often observed to be feisty on the field in the past.

His career met a major obstacle when he was involved in a public brawl in Bristol for which he was banned and fined by the England and Wales Cricket Board and did not return to the national side until he was exonerated by the court.

The all-rounder could not participate in the last tour to Australia which ultimately proved detrimental for England since they were beaten by a 4-0 margin in the five-Test series.

Impressed with Stokes' progress, Ponting lavished praise on the left-handed batsman who was recently nominated for the New Zealander of the Year award.

"It seems like he's playing with a lot of maturity," Ponting told cricket.com.au on Wednesday.

"He doesn't seem like he's in much of a rush now as he might have been.

"The thing about his personality as well, he's a big, strong, brash guy with a bit of an ego ... and I think as a younger person probably everything was flat out, one speed.

"To me, (during the World Cup) it seems like he (was) able to understand situations and play situations accordingly. That's a bit of maturity and understanding his own game and understanding what his team needs him to do."

'Australia need to keep him quiet'

Stokes' destructive form with the bat could pose a major threat to Australia, who are still in search of their first Ashes series win on England soil since 2001.

"He's a key man and more a key man because I think he's that real heartbeat for their team, a bit like 'Freddie' Flintoff in Ashes series gone by," said Ponting.

"Whenever they were in trouble and they needed something, they tend to go to those sort of guys.

"Australia need to keep him quiet if we're going to win the series."

Stokes was given a much-needed rest for the one-off Test against Ireland as he settles down from all the euphoric celebrations that followed the victory over New Zealand.