Dobell: England need Stokes but he needs them more

#PoliteEnquiries: Is Stokes a Prime Minister in waiting? (5:44)

George Dobell and Nagraj Gollapudi tackle your questions on the brilliant Stokes, the unbeaten Umesh and the lucky Kohli (5:44)

Of course it was Ben Stokes who sealed the game.

Of course it was Stokes, in a match studded with fine individual performances, who produced the definitive contribution.

Of course it was Stokes, on the verge of another hiatus from international cricket, who took the key wicket and the final wicket as if to underline how much England will miss him.

In both innings, Stokes was England's quickest bowler. But he is far more than the brutish enforcer he is required to be. He is a skillful swing bowler - perhaps England's second-best exponent of the skill - with a booming inswinger and the ability to make the odd one hold its line or leave the right-hander just a little. The wicket of KL Rahul, on the third evening, with one that appeared to be honing into the stumps but hit the pitch, nipped away and took the outside edge was Stokes at his best. It was a delivery that would have pleased James Anderson or Richard Hadlee.

But it will always be the wicket of Virat Kohli that is most prized in this India line-up. And with Kohli edging - literally, at times - India towards victory, it was his dismissal that gave England - for perhaps the first time since Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow were batting together on day one - the advantage in the match.

Taken in isolation, it was not an exceptional ball. Angled in to Kohli, it saw the batman play across the line and miss. But in context it was a fine piece of bowling. It followed an inswinger from the first ball of his spell and an outswinger from the second that drew Kohli into a shot only to fall short of the slip cordon. Desperate not to be forced to play away from his body again, Kohli went a long way across his stumps to the next delivery in an attempt to negate any away movement. Instead, he was left poorly positioned to play the ball swinging in and, overbalancing just a little, he was unable to keep it out.

Not long afterward, Stokes persuaded Hardik Pandya to poke at one that bounced and left him. From a position where they had been 87 for 7 in their second innings, England had their most dramatic victory since Chittagong in October 2016 when Stokes, yet again, was called upon to claim the final two wickets. He also scored more than a hundred runs in that game.

We shouldn't be surprised by Stokes' potency with the ball. Back in 2015, with Anderson injured, he produced a wonderful display of swing bowling to claim 6 for 36 against Australia in the second innings at Trent Bridge and led Trevor Bayliss to suggest he was the obvious successor to Anderson as England's premier swing bowler. His batting form may be a bit of a concern but the fact that he is now averaging 22 with both bat and ball since his return to Test cricket in New Zealand, is generally encouraging as there seems no reason to presume his batting will not come good.

Afterwards, in a brief interview with Sky Sports, Stokes looked exhausted and emotional. It may be that he had simply given his all to this match and was physically and mentally spent. But it may equally be a manifestation of his anxiety and a realisation over the potential consequences of the trial that awaits him next week. Put simply - and without in anyway trying to predict what may happen - the future suddenly looks most uncertain. This - defining games against the best side in the world in front of huge crowds - is what Stokes is good at. And, as he walked off, you get the sense he suddenly had a realisation of how much it means to him.

England need Stokes but, make no mistake, he needs them more. He needs the sense of community the dressing room environment provides and the sense of purpose the team goal provides. Sure, he can make a fortune in T20 leagues. But does Stokes strike you as a man who sits back and counts his money in the evenings? That's not what motivates him. And, for all he has achieved, he has just turned 27 and the best should be ahead of him. The cricketing world may well be keeping an eye on events in Bristol Crown Court next week, but Stokes will be keeping an eye on the scores from Lord's.

The encouraging thing, from an England perspective, was that it felt, as Root put it, that they had "two Ben Stokes" for a while at Edgbaston. Such was Sam Curran's contribution with bat and ball, that England will still go into the Lord's Test with enviable depth. It is asking a great deal for Curran to emulate the success of Stokes but he does swing the ball prodigiously and he does have a great eye when he bats. He will do many things very differently to Stokes - he doesn't have his pace with the ball or his power with the bat, for a start - but they do, perhaps, share a competitive steel and a hunger to be involved when the battle is at its most intense. England are lucky to have one such cricketer. To have two or three, as they do, is a huge asset. Moeen Ali, who has more Test wickets and only one fewer Test century than Stokes, is his most likely replacement at Lord's.

It was that all-round strength that saved England at Edgbaston. Despite the fragility of their batting and the fallibility of their slip catching, they were blessed to see their No. 6 claim six wickets in the match and their No. 8 score 87 runs. They will know, however, they cannot always be bailed out in that way. That top-order and that cordon have to do better if England are going to win more consistently. Stokes probably won't be at Lord's to save them.