• Saurabh Nagpal

Ben Stokes: England’s Knight in a Shining Armour


 

Here's a song that would sync just right in with Stokes' on-field brilliance: Killer Queen by Queen https://open.spotify.com/track/300YN8ebGB90nDuzgz0f3O?si=Gd9btecRS52g5ZFd4un3dg

 

Written on: January 9, 2020

Jimmy Anderson was struggling with his rib injury. Though Stuart Broad and Sam Curran had each taken an important wicket yet they weren’t looking as threatening as they normally do. South Africa was showing immense resolve and resilience. England had toiled hard for more than 120 overs.

The Newland’s wicket had become quite bland. Given that it was the fifth day of the match, there were footmarks, patches, and inconsistencies in the wicket but the ball had stopped swinging. Time was running out.

Ben Stokes, being his usual brilliant self, stepped up in times of want. In his lengthy spell which ended with the match, he bowled viciously fast and found a rhythm and reverse swing. He seemed divinely inspired considering the energy he had even after a long summer day’s work.

Stokes tormented Dwaine Pretorius with his sharp outswingers for a couple of overs before knocking him down. He, thereafter, in quick succession, got rid of Anrich Nortje and Vernon Philander and took his side across the line to level the four-match test series 1-1.

To go along with his heroic bowling display, he scored 47 runs in the first innings and a T-20 style, quick-fire 72 in the second innings. The importance of his 47-ball knock in the second innings gets heightened when we take in the fact that England won the match only nine overs before the close of play on the fifth day.

In this game, Stokes was omnipresent. His hands were as safe as houses and he took six catches to add-on to his splendid batting and bowling performance.

Stokes is the perfect all-rounder. A player that is every coach’s dream. It is plausible that he would make the starting XI of most sides based on either of his skills. The icing on the cake is that he tends to transcend into a superior level when under pressure, and his performances, consequently, heighten.

In the third Ashes Test at Headingley, he played one of the most remarkable innings ever played in Ashes. He, single-handedly, took England to a historic one-wicket victory with an astonishing innings of 135* and kept them alive in the series. Everyone, except Stokes, in the English camp looked done and dusted.

The day before, Stokes had bowled a herculean spell, in which he, continuously, from one end, bowled fast for the entirety of a session, as if he was spitting fire. Yet again, he made things happen out of thin air and kept this team in the game. Along with his technical abilities as a batsman, a bowler, and+ a fielder, his fitness levels and mental strength is also supreme.

Stokes Test batting average of 36.2 and ODI batting average of 40.6 is healthy but not as boast-worthy as a few other elites of the game. The same can be said for his Test bowling average of 32.9 and ODI bowling average of 41.6. However, what’s really extraordinary about him is his habit of winning the biggest games. His expertise in all departments of the game never lets him be out of any match. He is always heavily involved.

The prize that England desired ever so deeply, the greatest cup of the game, the crown of world champions was also brought to England by the heroics of Ben Stokes. His man of the match performance of 84* that helped England tie the game, which they would go on to win most bizarrely in the super over, would be weighed in gold. He would also win the BBC Sports Personality of 2019 and the Professional Cricketers' Association Players' Player of the Year 2019.

The Ben Stokes of the 2016 T-20 World Cup final has come a long way and now has become England’s knight in shining armor who looks set to be honored with knighthood in the coming future.

 

Picture Credits: dailymail.co.uk via Pinterest