“When I took over this job, it was more than results for me,” Stokes said. “It was about changing the mindset of the lads towards Test cricket, about having fun, and enjoying the fact that you’re out there representing your country, and the results look after itself.
“But to say that we’ve done it so quickly is just unbelievable,” he added. “I can only do so much, so I’ve got to show a huge amount of credit to Brendon, in the way that he’s come in and influenced this group. The backroom stuff and everyone else has played a part in this series, as well, they’ve just been absolutely phenomenal.
“To walk away with a 3-0 series win over the best team in the world is a pretty special start. I’ve got to show a huge amount of testament to the team over these three games. They’ve been absolutely phenomenal.”
“That could have been very easy for us to come back into our shell and say ‘it’s not worked this time, let’s just look to play it out’,” Stokes said. “But having a lad on debut in Jamie, to have the confidence to go out there and play like that, is something special that we’ve created in the group.
“The rub-off that we’re having on new guys coming in, it’s more important than us at the moment,” he added. “It’s about guys who are going to come into this changing-room in the future. And I think it’s really set a level for people who want to come and represent England in Test matches, that this is what we’re about.”
“Pottsy’s taken to it like a duck to water,” Stokes said. “This week in particular, he will bowl 10 times worse, and probably walk away with a ten-for himself. But this game, he has been just incredible. He’s backed up spell, after spell, after spell, over and over again.”
“I wanted to push the lads this week, to really show them what they’re capable of doing,” Stokes said. “Even Broady [Stuart Broad] – 36 years of age, although he probably doesn’t want me to say that – he was bowling 50 overs. And it’s fantastic to see Leachy coming in and taking 10 wickets. It’s been around the corner for him, and I’ve never seen a happier dressing-room for someone’s individual success. It’s been fantastic.”
“When we got together to select this squad, we picked the players that we all thought were the best in England in every position, and we certainly got every player in this team at the moment to fill those positions,” Stokes said. “Popey’s been fantastic the season for Surrey, he’s carrying that form over into England as well, and he’s really starting to show the world what Ollie Pope is all about.”
There’s little time for England to reflect on their achievement, however. On Friday, they will be at Edgbaston, taking on India in the fifth Test of the series that was postponed due to Covid-19 last summer. England are currently 2-1 down, and so need a victory to secure a share of the spoils, but Stokes promised that there would be no holding back from the attitude on display this past month.
“It’s crazy to think about that, isn’t it?” he said. “It’s obviously a completely different opposition, and we’ve still got a series to try and draw. But we’ll be thinking about us and, trust me when I say this, we’ll be coming out with exactly the same mindset, even though it’s a different opposition.”
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket