Former England captain Mike Brearley believes Cumbrian all-rounder Ben Stokes is already a better batsman than predecessors Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff.

Stokes, from Cockermouth, last week was named in England’s 16-strong squad for November’s three-match Test series in Sri Lanka, just three days after being charged with bringing the game into disrepute by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Brearley, who captained Botham in England sides in the 1970s and 1980s, says he thinks the 27-year-old is “working hard at his batting technique with the aim of turning himself into a complete batsman, rather than an exciting and brilliant hitter.”

He said: "In my view he has shown, particularly in his wonderful hundred at The Oval against South Africa in 2017 [scoring 112], probably his best innings for England so far, that he is already well embarked on this transition.

"This was an innings of range and versatility.

"For a long time during the first day, he was facing fine bowling in conditions that helped them. The ball swung, bounced and moved off the seam.

"The fact that his defensive technique stood comparison with that of Alastair Cook, who in fact scored more quickly than he did during that period of play, speaks highly of Stokes the batsman.

"On the second day, his innings blossomed with classically orthodox shots to all parts of the ground."

"More generally, Stokes is open to self-criticism and humble about his own shortcomings," Brearley added in his column for The Times .

"He studies the computer after he’s out. When during the tour of India in 2016 the England players were given the option of rest and recuperation in Dubai for a few days before the first Test, he stayed in Mumbai, working out regularly in the gym.

"Against spin bowlers, Stokes quickly realised that his main challenge lay in staying in and building an innings, especially on ‘holding’ pitches; that is, on dusty surfaces where the ball does not ‘come on’ to the bat.

"In the sub-continent, particularly, the most difficult time is the first half-hour, and you have to be able to rely on soft hands and correct play to see you through until things begin, hopefully, to feel easier.

"In attitude and technique, he is already more of a complete batsman than either Botham or Flintoff managed to be.

"Stokes is now up with Cook and Joe Root as one of England’s best batsmen. No one has as many gears as he does."