It took England almost twenty years to revamp themselves into the current invincible unit as they won their first ICC 50-over World Cup in 2019 on home soil. The ‘Three Lions’ are no longer a team that pins their hopes on an overtly-reliable player.
Led by limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan, and Test captain Joe Root, England has a strong core of players across all three formats, and are a nightmare to play against, especially in their own backyard.
Although there are a lot of leaders in the current England squad, in terms of having an impact and making the difference, no one even comes close to all-rounder Ben Stokes. However, just like any other cricketer, Stokes also had his fair shares of ups and downs.
Stokes’ early days in the gentlemen’s games were embroiled with controversies. But, the southpaw showcased grit and determination to become one of the leading icons in world cricket.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at 5 factors which make Ben Stokes the best all-rounder in world cricket, at present:
5. Never-say-die attitude
Apart from being surrounded by controversies, off-the-field, Stokes early days in international cricket weren’t the smoothest. He was dropped from the team in 2012, following a string of poor performances in his debut year (2011) as an England player.
However, he earned his first Ashes call-up and left a huge impact on his return to the team. After a slow start, Stokes bagged the all-important wickets of Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin, as expectations started building.
Stokes then 120 off 195 balls in the second innings of the third test to announce himself as a world-class all-rounder.
Talent alone is never enough, just ask Luke Wright and Tymal Mills. The two aforementioned players had talent in abundance but lacked the diligence and temperament to go along with it and make it huge in the world of cricket.
When it comes to raw talent, Stokes might be below the already-named two players, but his focus, intensity, and staying strong under pressure has brought him where he is today – on the pedestal of the cricket world.
During his early, Stokes lacked a lot when it comes to fundamentals, whether you talk of footwork, weight distribution, or shot selection. But, the Christchurch-born lad has come a long way since then
Playing ‘Stokesy’ is like having two players in your team. A team might only consist of 11 names, but the all-rounder’s presence in the starting XI gives the impression that England has named 12 players to take on their opponents.
3. Talismanic batting around the circuit
It was only after 2017 when Ben Stokes finally cemented his place in the England team. The southpaw kick-started his season with back-to-back centuries in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy against a formidable Australia and South African squad.
His continued dominance in the year led him to several honours which included the likes of ICC nominating him for the World Test XI and ODI XI for the same year. But, his career almost a detour following a nightclub brawl.
However, Stokes overcame anger-management-issues and was selected for the 2019 World Cup squad. After consistent and match-winning performances throughout the tournament, Stokes scored an unbeaten 84 against New Zealand in the final.
Last but not the least, who can forget his knock of 135 in the Headingley Test against Australia in the Ashes?
2. Brilliant record with the ball
As we saw in that pulsating World Cup final and the nail-biting Headingley Test, it is fair to say that Stokes is more of a batting all-rounder, rather than a bowling all-rounder. Although his bowling can be a serious threat, as well.
Stokes has the knack of consistently bowling 80 mph, making him a serious threat, especially with his reverse swing. Still just 29, Stokes has already bagged more than 200 wickets across formats.
Though Stokes has bowled a handful of match-winning spells, his spell 3/1 against South Africa in 2020 stands out against the others as his exploits had handed their first Test victory at Newlands since 1957.
As once branded the ‘Golden Nugget’ by current England Test skipper, Joe Root, Stokes pretty-much won England the World Cup, single-handedly. His consistency over the last 3-4 years has seen him become the leader of England’s golden generation.
Stokes is currently the top-ranked all-rounder in Test cricket. And if you compare him with great fast-bowling allrounders, only Sir Garfield Sobers and Jacques Kallis have done better than Stokes with the bat till this point — 67 Tests.
So, the question remains, where will the iridescent Ben Stokes end up in the illustrious list of allrounders?