Ben Stokes deserves Indian Premier League riches and should not feel awkward about them, according to former England team-mate James Taylor.
Ten days ago Stokes became the highest overseas signing in IPL history when Rising Pune Supergiants secured his services for £1.7million.
The talismanic all-rounder has been given permission by the England and Wales Cricket Board to play in six of the IPL’s seven weeks across April and May, meaning he will earn more in that time than from his year-long England central contract.
Stokes, currently on England duty and about to face West Indies in three one-day internationals, said on Wednesday that he feels “a little bit awkward” about his IPL jackpot, adding: “I’ve found it very tough to talk about.”
Yet Taylor, who could be forgiven for being envious after he was forced to retire from playing cricket aged 26 almost a year ago, thinks Stokes has warranted his IPL windfall given his all-round displays for England.
Speaking at a Chance to Shine event to mark World Book Day, Taylor told Press Association Sport: “I understand [Stokes’ feelings] because it’s a lot of money. People will be thinking about the money.
“If there’s one player that probably does warrant that, if anyone’s going to get paid that amount of money, you want somebody who can bat, bowl, field and is probably the best in the world.
“If anybody deserves it, he probably does the way he’s playing at the moment, the way he performed in India, that’s the key.
“He performed when he needed to, when he was trying to get signed, he did the job that he needed to do.
“If anybody deserves it, he does. It’s only natural to feel that way because it’s a lot of money, but I’m sure he will back it up.”
Stokes is centre of attention in the Caribbean, not only for his impending IPL earnings, but as he is about to face nemesis Carlos Brathwaite for the first time since their famous World Twenty20 final duel.
Brathwaite and West Indies stunningly won that with his four consecutive sixes off Stokes, but Taylor believes the Englishman will be ready for the Barbadian powerhouse come Friday’s first ODI in Antigua.
“He will have learnt a lot,” Taylor said of Stokes, whom he played alongside for much of his all-too-short England career.
“The best players in the world are the ones that learn the quickest and the ones that learn the most from the mistakes that they make.
“I’m sure Ben will have learnt a lot from that final, the T20 final. He will have learnt a lot from that and he’ll come out a lot stronger as a result of it.
“I’m sure he’ll have his plans up his sleeve, if in that situation again.
“We know how much Ben has gone from strength to strength, this winter especially on the sub-continent, he’s got more skills, he’s more consistent than ever and that’s one of the reasons why he’s one of the most sought-after players in the world.”
Little over a year ago Taylor was a member of England’s squad for a one-day series with South Africa, having just performed a key role in an unexpected Test series win over the Proteas.
Taylor’s world turned upside down on April 5 when he fell ill while preparing for Nottinghamshire’s pre-season friendly with Cambridge University and nearly died.
He was diagnosed in hospital with a rare heart condition that afflicts one in 5,000 people.
Having had a defibrillator fitted and been told he could not play cricket again, Taylor has focused mainly on cricket media work instead of continuing his international career.
He reflected: “I’m still getting used to a new body and stuff, but that’s all it is, just adjusting gradually, getting used to things. I’m alright. I’m still here. I’m still alive, so it’s not too bad.”