The world of English cricket has seen many marvellous talents over the years but, following his incredible test-winning innings at Headingley to level The Ashes, you have to ask the question of whether Ben Stokes is England’s greatest ever all-rounder. After producing a once-in-a-lifetime display in which he hit 135 not out, it would certainly be impossible to not put the 28-year-old’s name in the conversation.
As a result of that, we’re going to take a look at what makes Ben Stokes so special, along with also considering whether he is the greatest all-rounder to ever grace English cricket.
What’s Special About Stokes?
Prior to his England debut in 2011, Stokes was catching the eye at youth level after hitting an 88-ball century against India in the 2010 Under-19s World Cup. Since then, and many years on, the all-rounder has continued to develop his game and, as a result, has since become an integral part of the England setup. However, what stands out most about the Englishman’s Headingley innings, and his batting in general, is his new-found ability to judge scenarios.
In his first 73 balls at the crease, he scored just three runs. Yet as the anticipation and pressure began to build, so did Stokes’ determination to win as he hit home 74 runs in his final 45 balls. The control of his display was there for all to see as it took him 83 balls to reach double figures, which is the slowest since Ian Salisbury in Calcutta some 26 years ago. Following his recent heroics, the Christchurch-born star has climbed to number two in the ICC Test all-rounder rankings and because of that good form, and although England failed to reclaim The Ashes, they are now 6/4 with cricket betting to win the fifth Test at The Oval.
Where Does He Rank Among the All-Time Greats?
There can be no doubts that English cricket fans have been able to witness some phenomenal all-rounders with the likes of Sir Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff gracing the field in years gone by. Although their impacts on the sport will never be forgotten, there’s an argument to be made that Headingley has seen Stokes match, if not surpass, the legacy of those before him. Even though he may not statistically reach the same levels as those before him, no other all-rounder has delivered match-winning performances in games of such high importance.
While the 28-year-old demonstrated his batting prowess in his second international Test match by scoring a century in Perth back in 2013, Stokes’ fielding ability is also vital to his success in the modern game. Although Botham and Flintoff were both better bowlers, England’s latest cricketing hero has the edge in the fielding department. While it may be his batting that has most recently caught the eye, it mustn’t be forgotten that Stokes has amassed a total of 329 catches throughout his international career.
A Legacy-Defining Summer
It’s without debate that world-class all-rounders have been hard to come by within English cricket, but Botham, Flintoff, and Stokes have all produced unforgettable moments. While the debate will go on about the greatest ever, the magnitude of the 28-year-old’s most inspiring performances certainly places him in good stead to claim that title.