en Stokes believes his England Test side have a “very high ceiling” after they won six of their seven matches this summer without any of their fastest bowlers available.
England won series against New Zealand (3-0) and South Africa (2-1), as well as clinching a final Test victory against India clinching a draw in a series carried over from 2021.
They did so without Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, both long-term injury absentees, as well as a number of other fast bowlers like Olly Stone, Saqib Mahmood and Chris Woakes.
In their absence, Matt Potts and Jamie Overton were awarded debuts, while Ollie Robinson made an excellent return to Test cricket.
“It’s a great thing to think about – who knows how far we can take this side over the next couple of years, because we’ve got two of our premium fast bowlers who have had big injuries this summer and have missed a lot of cricket,” said Stokes.
“So you add Jofra and Woody into the mix being fully fit – it’s scary to think where things could go, especially with the ball. And that batters that we’ve got coming through, and everything like that, it’s a very high ceiling.”
Stokes also said he was satisfied with the performances of openers Alex Lees and Zak Crawley throughout the summer, despite them averaging 25 and 23 respectively.
“They’ve not got the number of runs that they would have liked to but opening the batting in England is always a very, very challenging thing to do,” he said. “But what they have done is they have been the guys who have set the tone for these particular moments for us.
“Even in the first innings, I know [Lees’] 13 runs is not something a batter wants to be given praise for but when we came to bat in the first innings it was about trying to get these runs as quickly as we possibly could. We wanted to get ahead of the game, we wanted to produce a result, whether it goes our way or South Africa’s way.
“But those two have been great and that partnership again last night was testament to two guys who have taken away any selfish goals in their international career and really focused on what is required and needed of the team.
“We wanted to knock that score off last night – we didn’t want to be back here this morning – and they went out there and did that. For two lads to go out there and do that when a lot of people probably go out and just try to find a score and finish not out, a lot of credit has got to go to them. They’ve done that on a few occasions this summer and really set the tone for the way we want to play.”
Asked if he had ever doubted Crawley’s ability to open, Stokes said: “The best thing to say would be ‘no’ here, but I can categorically say that at no stage throughout the whole summer have I ever doubted Zak Crawley opening the batting.”