2019 has been a year for Ben Stokes. The English powerhouse is a serious match-winner and defines the character of sheer heroism.
Grit, resilience, sense and maturity can all come together for Stokes on the cricket field. It was purely evident in the third Ashes 2019 Test match held at Headingley in Leeds.
Stokes’ machoism and guts helped the sides chase down a record total of 359.
It was pure joy and ecstasy. The ride on Day 4 of the Test match was a pure entertainer.
Test cricket is here to stay and it’s people like Ben Stokes who are the epitome to the format’s success.
It was one of the best moments in England’s Test cricket history. It was a magical inning, one that is among the top in Ashes history.
For England, it was a similar show in a Test win after Ian Botham (1981) and Andrew Flintoff (2005).
Stokes joined the bandwagon of famous all-round rockstar cricket celebrities as these to write his name on the history books.
If Day 3 was utter labouring and holding on, Day 4 for Stokes was setting the tempo from the start.
There was a belief in the manner in which Stokes batted. He had the vision of getting England to an unbelievable position to square the five-match Test series at 1-1.
With two more matches to go, the dream for England is well alive. They have every chance to regain The Ashes. One can say Australia lost the plot in the final phase. And it was Stokes that stole the thunder.
One can also relate this innings as one of England’s best ever in Test cricket.
For a side that was bowled out for 67 in the first innings, winning the Test from here on is something that nobody had ever imagined in this lifetime. But that’s why sports is a miracle.
Stokes deserves every bit of all the love, praise and attention. He is definitely the best all-rounder in today’s cricket.
There was relentless pressure on both sides. There were some panic situations, desperation along the way from both teams and then the audacity on the other hand by Stokes.
He single-handedly took charge and delivered an unlikely result.
Ben Stokes in Ashes 2019, The Best Man
In July 2019, the all-rounder’s heroics helped England win the ICC World Cup 2019. This was England’s maiden World Cup triumph and Stokes made all the difference in an epic finale against New Zealand. His knock of 84* was there for everyone to witness. He also stood out in that Super Over.
The World Cup was a success for Stokes in so many ways. His 465 runs that included five fifties were terrific.
A month and a few days later, Stokes was once again instrumental in handing England their first chase of 350-plus in Test cricket. Moreover, it came in Ashes 2019. This time Stokes scored a superb 135*. The innings that gave us so much to savour.
Has a cricketer ever had such an influential couple of months?#Ashes pic.twitter.com/ZO1dUlwQNL
— ICC (@ICC) August 25, 2019
With Stokes at the crease, there is always a belief that England has a chance to get past the line.
His speciality of doing things on his own and being so calm in situations makes him a true match-winner.
The matured head guides him and he never looks out of sync. To amass a second Ashes 2019 century and that too in style was a true reflection of his heroism.
The Englishman is the best thing that has happened to cricket in 2019. He has made England believe all over again.
An innings that will be cherished forever
After Joe Denly’s dismissal on Day 3, England needed someone to support skipper Joe Root, besides batting till the close of play. Stokes scored two runs from 50 deliveries and hung on.
It was a watchful two-run unbeaten inning that paved the way for this masterclass on Day 4.
Stokes looked positive and there was intent in his eye. Since the start of the day, he started growing and batted beautifully to his eighth career Test ton.
He shared a crucial 86-run stand with Jonny Bairstow that saw England keep up with the momentum.
The most crucial part was his 76-run unbeaten stand with number 11 batsman Jack Leach.
In that stand, Leach contributed perhaps the most important one run in cricket history. Stokes amassed the rest.
Like he did in his innings six weeks ago in the ICC World Cup 2019 finale at Lord’s, Stokes launched a stunning solo assault.
His mayhem at the crease tore apart the Aussies. Stokes left everyone stunned with his array of boundary hitting.
He hammered off-spinner Nathan Lyon for three sixes and followed that up by hitting Josh Hazlewood for four, six and six in three consecutive balls. In this phase, he also brought up his hundred.
He did enjoy a fair share of luck towards the end but these sort of decisions often go with the brave.
Stokes hit the winning runs through covers and sank to his knees in exhausted celebration.
Stokes had the Headingley crowd believing
There was a phase of madness that saw England lose five wickets for 41 runs. However, as long as there was Stokes, there was hope and belief in Leeds.
It was that last-wicket stand that stood the test of times. Every run was cheered. Every dot ball by Leach met with a thunderous roar.
When Stokes went the distance and started tonging the Aussie bowlers for massive boundaries, the stadium vibrated.
That was the atmosphere. People were on the edge of their seats enjoying one of the classics in The Ashes.
The Western Terrace in the stadium had grown in its celebration with each ball that Stokes dispatched into the crowd.
The last 84 runs off Stokes’ bat came from 67 balls. If someone that could win a game of this magnitude, it had to be Stokes. He knew one mistake could end everything. And his batting showed that nothing of this was to come.
There was that leg-before decision that should have accounted for Stokes. However, the umpire shook his head and Aussies had no review left. Interestingly, England still needed two runs to win. But the magnificent Stokes was not to be denied.
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