New Delhi: The whole cricketing world is going gaga over England all-rounder Ben Stokes’ heroics on the cricketing field in the past month, but the cricketer has seen his share of downfall and was initially known as the “bad boy” among the English cricket fans.
In 2019, Stokes has produced match-winning performances in the world’s two most renowned cricketing events — the World Cup and the Ashes. Many people continue to ask British Prime Minister Borish Johnson to award Stokes “Knighthood” for his contribution to cricket in England.
In the 50-over World Cup final, Stokes played a knock of 84 runs to hand England their maiden World Cup triumph. The match went down to the super over and then the winner was decided by boundary countback rule.
However, the World Cup final in the 20-over World Cup in 2016 brought criticism for Stokes as he was unable to make the team win, allowing West Indies to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Windies were down and out as the match looked headed towards the Three Lions as the team from the Caribbean needed 22 runs in the final over.
England skipper Eoin Morgan had decided to hand the ball to Stokes. But as fate would have it, Windies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite smashed four consecutive sixes off the first four balls to hand the team their second 20-20 World Cup triumph and Stokes was left distraught on the park.
Ashes, seen as the pinnacle of Test cricket, has also schooled Stokes about the highs and lows of the sport. In the third Test in the ongoing Ashes, Stokes played one of the finest knocks in Test cricket to guide England to an improbable one-wicket win against Australia.
The left-handed batsman went on to play an unbeaten knock of 135 runs to help England level the series at 1-1.
But Stokes had to miss out on the 2017-18 Ashes series after the 28-year-old was involved in a brawl outside a pub in Bristol. Initially, he was arrested but then was released by the police despite the ongoing investigation.
The video footage which was later released showed Stokes assaulting two men outside the pub which led to the cricketer’s omission from the team for the 2017-18 Ashes.
On January 15, 2018, Stokes was charged with affray for his involvement in the assault. He then appeared before Bristol Magistrates’ Court in February and pleaded not guilty. He then joined the English team in Hamilton for the New Zealand series, and the England Cricket Board (ECB) put its own disciplinary process on hold as the legal proceedings were going on.
Finally, Stokes was acquitted from the charges of affray in August 2018.
Stokes had made his debut in the year 2011 in ODIs, but it was his debut series in the longest format of the game which attracted viewers.
He went on to play his first Test against Australia in 2013. The series was not a good outing for the English as they had to face a 0-5 drubbing at the hands of Australia.
Pacer Mitchell Johnson had rattled the English side with bodyline bowling, but Stokes was able to stand his ground in the Test match played at Perth as he went on to play a knock of 120 runs.
Over the next two years, Stokes slowly but steadily became a reliable player in the team and was the go-to-man for skippers to make something happen on the cricket field.
Indian Premier League, viewed as the breeding ground for cricketers, saw Stokes becoming the costliest player in 2017 as he was purchased by Rising Pune SuperGiants for a whopping amount of 14.5 crores.
After missing out on cricketing action for England, Stokes has been a ‘changed man’ and his appetite for producing match-winning performances continues to grow.
Knighthood or no Knighthood, the player has cemented his place as one of the finest to take the field.