Shane Warne has described Cumbrian all-rounder Ben Stokes as “the hardest trainer” he has ever played with, ahead of England’s home World Cup campaign.

Stokes, who began his career at Cockermouth Cricket Club, is expected to be one of England’s key players in their World Cup campaign which starts tomorrow at The Oval with a clash against South Africa.

Legendary Australian leg-spinner Warne, who worked with Stokes in the Indian Premier League at Rajasthan Royals, believes the 27-year-old is struggling to identify his best role in the team at the moment.

“He is the hardest trainer out of anyone I have ever played with from 1989 to 2013. It’s a tough one because he feels he needs that for his preparation,” said Warne, 49.

“But I feel he should back off a bit, so he is a bit fresher and not everything is done at 100 miles an hour in his training and playing.

“Stokesy is a very good batsman and bowler. Combining the two and working out what role he has is very important.

“He is probably the best fielder in the World Cup, too, so he has all the bases covered but in his whole life, it has come pretty easy for him and at the moment, he is just trying to find out his role. He wants to know if he has to bat at five and slog it or play himself in and then expand. He is caught between being super-aggressive and giving himself time.”

Warne added to The Telegraph: “When you first start, you just play international cricket. There is no fear of failure.

“Suddenly as you play a lot, you understand the game a bit more and the consequences of a bad shot or bowling a bad over.

"The youthful exuberance has gone. Everyone else’s expectations of you have gone up as well and you start asking, ‘Why am I not scoring runs?’

“Then you start training harder to find an answer which, when you think how hard he trains anyway, you can see why it might become too much. Throw in the mix what he has been through over the last 18 months off the field [being arrested after a fight outside a Bristol nightclub in September 2017], and nobody should underestimate the toll that took on him and his family, and it’s not easy. I would never write him off.

“It’s a matter of time and the World Cup could be his time.

“I’m sure [captain] Eoin Morgan and the leaders will give him a clear role, so he can enjoy himself.

"If I was in charge of England, I would bat him as high up the order as possible to give him as much time at the crease as possible. He could be at number three for me.

“He could then bat like a batsman. But don’t rely on him for 10 overs.”