Ben Stokes is ranked as the number one all-rounder in Test cricket by the ICC, but the journey to that top spot has not been without its setbacks.
At the age of 33, Stokes is at the very top of his game now. Not only is he explosive with the bat in all formats of the game, but he is also proving to be equally as dangerous with the ball.
There have been a couple of incidents over the last five years where Stokes’ international career has hung in the balance. In 2018, he was charged with affray for an incident in September 2017 in Bristol. The pending investigation then meant he had to miss the 2017-18 Ashes series.
Stokes vowed to change following that charge and he has been true to his word. All the headlines since then have been about what he has been doing on the pitch, rather than off it.
World Cup Final Heroics
The World Cup final is the pinnacle of any cricket player’s career and last year Stokes stood up on the biggest game of them all with a match-winning performance.
When he came to the crease against New Zealand, his side were in a bit of trouble, but Stokes held his nerve. He went on to score a crucial 84 not-out, including two sixes in the final over in an incredible game at Lord’s which was eventually won by England following a Super Over.
Stokes was named the Player of the Match in the final. Without his innings, England would not have been able to lift the trophy for the first time.
That performance must have given Stokes a lot of confidence as he has built upon it ever since. It also changed the public’s perception of the Durham player as he went from zero to hero at that moment.
The England all-rounder will have the opportunity to help England win another major tournament in 2021 at the T20 World Cup in Australia. England are +400 in the cricket betting for that event. Given his experience in the IPL in that format of the game, it would be no surprise if Stokes was once again one of the star players in the competition.
Jaw-Dropping Ashes Innings at Headingley
After that spectacular World Cup final, it seemed unthinkable that Stokes could produce an innings that was even more remarkable in the same year. However, he did it in the Third Ashes Test against Australia at Headingley.
In the match in Leeds, England looked to be heading for defeat. However, against the odds, Stokes was able to carry his side to their total of 359 with a knock of 139 not-out. That innings has been compared to Ian Botham’s famous performance for England in 1981 and has also been described as the innings of the decade in men’s Test cricket.
Stokes now knows he can be a match-winner on a consistent basis for England. He has the top spot in the ICC rankings so his next challenge will be to prove he is one of best all-rounders the game has ever seen.