Dhaka: England`s Ben Stokes could mature into one of the greatest ever all-rounders, coach Trevor Bayliss said after the 25-year-old`s match-winning performance in the opening test against Bangladesh.
Stokes was man-of-the-match in England`s thrilling 22-run victory in Chittagong, taking six wickets, including two in three balls to seal victory on the final day.
He also scored a vital 85 with the bat in the second innings after England`s top order had collapsed on day three.
"He could be right up there with some of the all-time best all-rounders," Bayliss told reporters in Dhaka ahead of the second test starting Friday.
"He`s young into his career and that`s going to be easier to judge the longer he goes. Only time will tell.
"But the strides he`s made on the subcontinent playing spin have been top class."
England captain Alastair Cook said after Chittagong that Stokes brought `X factor` to the side and put the all-rounder`s improvement down to his work playing spin.
"It wasn`t all that long ago we were wondering how he might go on spin-friendly wickets, but he`s a guy that works extremely hard in the nets," the 53-year-old Australian said. "It`s his defence to spin that has improved out of sight.
"We know that if he gets a bad ball he can hit anything over the fence, but you`ve got to be there to get that loose ball. In the past he probably hasn`t had a lot of footwork, has played from the crease and backed his eye and his hands.
"But as we`ve seen on this tour, in the one-dayers and this test, he`s defended really well off the front foot, got right out and smothered the ball before it had a chance to spin and jump past the outside edge."
Leg-spinner Adil Rashid had a more modest performance in Chittagong, managing three wickets on a spin-friendly surface, but Bayliss urged patience with the four-test bowler ahead of a five-match test series in India next month.
"Look, it`s only been the very, very best leg-spinners who have got the control and consistency and ability to take wickets," said Bayliss of the 28-year-old.
"I think Rash is still on a journey there and he`s still improving. He`s getting more and more confident.
"I expect that once upon a time the spinners weren`t thought of as getting to their peak until their early thirties, so he`s still got a bit to learn yet. But I think he`s on the right track."