England ‘inspired’ by playing in memory of the Queen, Ben Stokes reveals

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Ben Stokes revealed England took “a huge amount of inspiration” from the Queen after completing a Test series win over South Africa on Monday.

The death of the long-reigning monarch, announced by Buckingham Palace officials on Thursday evening, led to Friday’s play in the decisive third Test at The Oval being called off as a mark of respect.

A carefully orchestrated commemoration took place before the action on Saturday got under way, with the sell-out crowd hushed as the players, wearing black armbands, made their way on to the field to a military guard of honour.

A minute’s silence was then observed after which soprano Laura Wright performed the national anthems of first South Africa then England, with those in attendance joining in a stirring rendition of God Save the King before they then burst into a spontaneous and prolonged applause.

“I’ll never forget walking down the steps out of the changing rooms to complete silence in the ground,” said England Test captain Stokes. “We didn’t know that that was going to happen.

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“We’re normally used to walking down with the big cheering and everything like that but walking down, the silence was deafening. It was incredible.

“You could see the upset, but also the amount of respect that everyone has for the Queen, for her service to the country and all around the world as well.”

Friday’s abandonment after Thursday’s washout meant the series decider between England and South Africa was a three-day affair but Stokes’ side comfortably claimed a nine-wicket win inside half an hour of the third on Monday morning.

There was some doubt on Friday about whether the Test would proceed but Stokes said at the time he would be “honoured” to play in memory of the Queen, who had reigned over the UK since 1952.

“We take a huge amount of inspiration from what she did in her reign,” added Stokes.

“We obviously do it nowhere near to the extent that she did for the 70 years. But we walk out there and we represent this country and we do it with a lot of pride and honour as well.”

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