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Ben Stokes keeps milestones in the background as he prepares to hit another ton

England captain Ben Stokes downplayed his landmark appearance against India in Rajkot this week, insisting that joining the prestigious 100 Test club was “just a number”.

Stokes is set to become the 16th Englishman to three figures on Thursday a little over a decade on from his Adelaide debut, where he memorably had a testy exchange with Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

That combative nature has been a constant in a career of stratospheric highs and crushing lows, but he is naturally averse to celebrating personal milestones, as evidenced most acutely at Headingley in 2019.

On that occasion, Stokes barely acknowledged his hundred and only celebrated after hauling England to a famous victory and he stayed true to type when asked to talk up his 100th Test match.

“I guess it’s a sign of longevity,” he said, almost apologetically. “It’s just a number. Every Test is just as important as the next one. Then there’s the next one, which will be 101 – it’s just one more.

“I don’t want it to sound like I’m not thankful for the opportunities I’ve had. There will be a time when I can (reflect on what he has achieved) a bit more.

“But milestones and stuff like that – it’s not done until it’s done.

“While I’m still playing and wanting to achieve a lot, driving the team, giving individuals what I think is the best platform for them to be successful is where all my thoughts are at the moment.”

It's just a number. Every Test is just as important as the next one.

Another character trait that has been evident in Stokes the captain is his eagerness to roll the dice and risk defeat in pursuit of victory, largely paying off with six of the former and 14 of the latter.

He is therefore highly unlikely to find himself in the same situation Sir Alastair

Read more on independent.co.uk