Full name Benjamin Andrew Stokes
Born June 4, 1991, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand
Playing role Allrounder
Batting style Left-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm fast-medium
One of the most explosive all-rounders of the modern era, Ben Stokes’s energy is infectious on the cricket field. He is extremely passionate everything that he does and being an aggressive character means that there is seldom a dull moment when he is around. An attacking southpaw with a penchant for the big hits while also being capable of playing a big innings, Stokes is also equally good with the ball. He can bowl at moderately high speeds and has a knack of providing breakthroughs when nothing seems to work for his team.
Born on 4 June 1991 in Christchurch, New Zealand, Benjamin Andrew Stokes is the son of rugby league player, Gerald Stokes who represented New Zealand in international Rugby Leagues. His sublime talent was clear from an early age and it was no surprise that he signed on a 2-year county contract with Durham at the age of 18. He made his one-day debut against Surrey in 2009 and marked the occasion by snaring Mark Ramprakash with his 3rd delivery in FC cricket. He played 2 youth Tests against Bangladesh and excelled with both bat and ball. His talent was further noticed in the 2010 U-19 WC where he registered a century against India. He made his FC debut in the season opener against MCC at Abu Dhabi in 2010, scoring his first fifty and picking up a wicket.
Stokes’s consistent performances catapulted him into national reckoning and it was no surprise when he was named in the England ODI squad for the one-off match against Ireland and the home series against India. A broken finger meant that he could only play as a batsman. He struggled against India in the ODI series and was dropped from the subsequent away tour of India. After recuperating from the acute injury, Ben Stokes rebounded admirably, compiling 827 runs in addition to capturing 37 wickets at an average of 21.47. His resplendent all-round heroics saw his being ear-marked as the one to eventually fulfill the all-rounder’s role that had not been filled since the retirement of Freddie Flintoff.
Expectedly Stokes was named in the England lions development squad for the Australian tour but in a cruel quirk of fate, he was sent back home along with Kent pacer, Matt Coles, for repeated breaches of discipline and unprofessional conduct. Stokes tendered his apology for his irresponsible behaviour and vowed to return to top-flight cricket. He underwent rehabilitation and then earned the third seamer’s slot for the One dayers against Australia on the back of his stupendous heroics in Durham’s championship winning campaign. His maiden 5-fer, albeit in a losing cause, did not miss the brains trust of the English selectors as Ben Stokes was included in the 17-member squad for the 2013-14 return Ashes Down Under.
Stokes made his debut in the second Test and hit a brilliant maiden Test century in the third Test. Stokes bagged a six-fer in the first innings of the fifth Test and also top scored with 47 runs in the first innings to help England crawl to 155. Although England suffered a humiliating 5-0 whitewash, Stokes had a fantastic series finishing as England’s second-highest wicket taker with 15 wickets and third-highest run-getter with 279 runs.
Stokes’s form remained more or less solid in the ODI series as well. After starting off on a sedate note, he notched up his maiden ODI half-century in the 4th ODI and took 4 wickets as England managed to seal their first and only competitive win Down Under in 9 games. His impressive performances in Australia helped him secure a place in England’s squad to West Indies. Unfortunately, while expressing his disappointment for being dismissed cheaply in a T20I against West Indies, he injured his hand banging a door in the dressing room and was ruled out of the World T20 in Bangladesh.
After a string of low scores and also briefly out of England’s squad, Stokes showed his class and quality with a thrill-a-minute ton against New Zealand at Lord’s in a Test match. He also was in prime form against Australia at Trent Bridge when he plucked a five-for as the hosts reclaimed the Ashes. During the tour of South Africa, Stokes played with sparkle and fizz in Cape Town to crunch the fastest double ton by an Englishman in Tests. Unfortunately, in the World T20 held in India, he was at the receiving end of Carlos Brathwaite’s broad willow as he was smacked for four sixes in the last over of the final at the Eden Gardens. Stokes was shattered as West Indies clinched the title. Subsequently, Stokes sustained a knee injury while playing in a Test match against Sri Lanka in Leeds.
Despite the World T20 setback, Stokes’ career has progressed in a serene fashion. Having missed out the majority of the home season with injury, he returned for the sub-continental tour of Bangladesh and India. He had mixed returns with the bat, but shone with the ball, especially with his ability to get reverse swing. A century and a five-wicket haul was a nice way for Ben Stokes to sign off a tough 2016. A decent Champions Trophy followed, where England were eliminated in the semifinals and just when it seemed like Stokes had the world at his feet, tragedy struck. Not for the first time in his cricketing career, indiscipline hurt him bad and this time it was the biggest ever issue that he had faced. An incident in the Bristol nightclub meant that he was suspended by the ECB until further notice. It was a massive blow to England’s Ashes campaign which eventually ended in a 0-4 drubbing.
After spending months out of the game, Stokes got some relief when the ECB decided to include him for the ODI series in New Zealand. While the decision to pick him despite being charged is debatable, it was clearly the lifeline that the all-rounder was looking for. With age on his side, it is expected that Stokes will end up as one of the game’s greatest all-rounders of all time. For that to happen though, he shall have to get a grip over his discipline – an issue that has hounded him aplenty over the years. One hopes that the latest incident, which nearly threatened to put a full stop to his international career, makes him to stay on his toes.
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