England’s transformation into a dominant cricket force spanned nearly two decades, culminating in their triumphant 2019 ICC 50-over World Cup victory on home turf. Gone are the days when they relied solely on one standout player.
Under the leadership of Eoin Morgan in limited-overs and Joe Root in Tests, England boasts a formidable core of talent across all cricket formats, proving to be a formidable opponent, especially when playing on their home grounds.
While the current England squad boasts several leaders, none can match the impact and game-changing abilities of all-rounder Ben Stokes. Nevertheless, like any other cricketer, Stokes faced his fair share of challenges.
Stokes’ early cricket career was marred by controversies, but the left-handed dynamo displayed unwavering determination, elevating himself to the status of a cricket icon on the global stage.
Now, let’s delve into the five key factors that establish Ben Stokes as the preeminent all-rounder in contemporary world cricket.
Once hailed as the ‘Golden Nugget’ by the current England Test captain, Joe Root, Ben Stokes almost single-handedly secured England’s World Cup victory. His remarkable consistency over the past three to four years has propelled him to the forefront of England’s golden generation of cricketers.
At present, Stokes holds the title of being the highest-ranked all-rounder in Test cricket. When you stack him up against legendary fast-bowling all-rounders, only Sir Garfield Sobers and Jacques Kallis have outperformed Stokes with the bat in their first 67 Tests.
2. Brilliant record with the ball
As evident from the thrilling World Cup final and the heart-pounding Headingley Test, it’s safe to say that Stokes leans more toward being a batting all-rounder, though his bowling is no slouch either.
Stokes consistently delivers at 80 mph, a formidable pace, and his reverse swing can be a potent weapon. At just 29 years old, he has already claimed over 200 wickets in various formats.
While Stokes has bowled several game-changing spells, one particularly shines bright: his remarkable 3/1 performance against South Africa in 2020. This exceptional effort secured their first Test victory at Newlands since 1957.
3. Talismanic batting around the circuit
Ben Stokes solidified his spot in the England team after 2017. He began his season impressively with consecutive centuries during the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, facing off against formidable opponents like Australia and South Africa.
His remarkable performances throughout the year earned him several honors, including nominations to the ICC World Test XI and ODI XI for that same year. However, a nightclub brawl briefly derailed his career.
Yet, Stokes managed to overcome anger management issues and earned a spot on the 2019 World Cup squad. His consistent and game-changing contributions during the tournament culminated in an unbeaten 84 against New Zealand in the final.
And let’s not forget his unforgettable innings of 135 in the Headingley Test against Australia during the Ashes. It’s a moment etched in cricket history.
Talent alone doesn’t always suffice, as Luke Wright and Tymal Mills can attest. Both possessed abundant talent but lacked the necessary dedication and temperament to achieve greatness in cricket.
While in terms of sheer talent, Stokes might not match up to the aforementioned two players, his unwavering focus, intensity, and ability to thrive under pressure have propelled him to where he stands today – at the pinnacle of the cricketing world.
In his early days, Stokes had many shortcomings in fundamental aspects like footwork, weight distribution, and shot selection. However, the lad from Christchurch has made significant strides since then.
Having ‘Stokesy’ in your team is like having two players in one. Although a cricket team consists of only 11 members, having this all-rounder in the starting XI makes it seem as though England has fielded 12 players to take on their opponents.
5. Never-say-die attitude
Beyond the controversies that often surrounded him off the field, Ben Stokes faced a bumpy road in the early stages of his international cricket career. In 2012, he found himself dropped from the team due to a series of lackluster performances during his debut year in 2011 as an England player.
However, his redemption came with his first Ashes call-up, and his return left a significant impact. Although he had a sluggish beginning, Stokes eventually made his mark by claiming the crucial wickets of Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin, raising expectations.
Then, in the third test, Stokes played a remarkable innings, scoring 120 runs off 195 balls in the second innings. This performance firmly established him as a world-class all-rounder.
Ben Stokes stands out as the preeminent all-rounder in contemporary world cricket due to his exceptional consistency, outstanding bowling prowess, talismanic batting, unwavering diligence, and a never-say-die attitude that has seen him overcome early setbacks to become a true cricketing legend. His remarkable contributions have not only solidified his place in the cricketing pantheon but have also made him a vital asset for any team lucky enough to have him in their ranks