One thing that separates a normal player and a match-winner is aggression in character.
The aggression to win matches for his team!
The aggression to not get defeated!
The aggression to prove his skill and ability!
The aggression that is learned from lots of defeats!
Ben Stokes has become the one who can tick all the boxes that are required to be a match-winner with so much maturity and learning.
Sachin Tendulkar, the Indian master batsman, when asked about Ben Stokes, has said this:
Ben is aggressive, positive, and when he has to be slightly defensive, he is prepared to do that for the team. I always feel controlled aggression produces results, and so far, whatever I have seen, the aggression has been there, but it is controlled. So this is what I think of Ben Stokes.
A match-winner has to be a contributor, and at the same time, he must be finishing off matches for his team consistently.
If you look at the history of cricket, there are many talented players with otherworldly skill sets. But the list of match winners who could pull off a match for their side is minimal.
To mention few, there were Vivian Richards and Brian Lara for West Indies; Kapil Dev, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli for India, and Australians had Michael Bevan. These are also other big names who won matches with the bat.
There were many in the past with the ball, but currently, the list restricts to Jasprit Bumrah, Jofra Archer, and Rashid Khan. These can change the game single-handedly.
But Ben Stokes is a complete all-rounder. He can win matches either with the bat or the ball. And especially with his bravery.
Be it the final of the World cup 2019 or the second Ashes Test in 2019; he fought with his heart. There was nothing left in his body when he finished off these two historical matches.
Here’s what Moeen Ali has to say about him:
To deliver an innings like the one he played at Headingley, just six weeks after winning us the World Cup final, and with the Ashes on the line, is what seals it for me. I know there are past greats like Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff, but we’re watching another legend in the making here.
In fact, he groomed himself in reading the situation of the match. This comes from the defeats he faced in his career. Of course, everyone had to go through defeats in their career. But the ones who overcome the downfall with a bang are the special ones right!
The Back Story
Every match-winner has a backstory. Likewise,
- Stokesy got dismissed from the England Lions tour of Australia in 2013 due to some disciplinary action.
- He got suspended from Ashes tour 2017 because of the Bristol Nightclub incident. Indeed it was a major setback for an upcoming player by that time.
- The four consecutive sixes of Carlos Brathwaite in the last over of T20 world cup 2016 would have demolished Ben Stokes’ mental strength.
But the way he transformed those negatives into positives is an inspiring script. Eventually, he has become the ‘most precious,’ not only for England but for the whole cricketing world.
The world realized the strong mind balance of Ben Stokes when he won the Headingley Test single-handedly. At the same time, he proves to be a brawny too. One of the instants that would showcase his physical fitness is the recent do or die Test match (2nd Test against Windies in 2020.)
With the bat, Stokes made a phenomenal 176 runs in the first innings and an unbeaten 78 in the second innings to build up a quick lead over Windies.
With that, he came in to bowl a long spell which his team needed by that time. It was a stage in the final day where England was in need to break the 100 run stand between Jermaine Blackwood and Shamarh Brooks.
England was bowling with the bouncer strategy. They had a short leg in a while, a deep fine leg, a deep square leg, and a deep mid-wicket according to the plan. In fact, it was the 8th over of Ben Stokes in that long spell. When he bowled the first ball, the tired, short ball was pushed by Blackwood to the mid-off region, which was a no man’s land. Ben Stokes gave in a sprinting chase to prevent the boundary, but unfortunately, the ball had gone for four.
Astonishingly with that kind of effort, he continued to bowl according to the plan and fetched the main wicket of Blackwood through his steaming bouncer in the same over. By doing that, he created a chance for England’s victory.
How do you expect someone who has made a tiring knock for his team in both the innings and is at the end of a long spell to chase the ball with his whole heart and bowl lethal bouncers in a long spell with full effort?
Ben Stokes after receiving his MOM award of the match:
I’ll give everything to the team, whatever’s asked of me. We’ve found a method within our attack to be aggressive when things aren’t happening. It dries it up; the batsmen don’t have anywhere to go. I’ll always do whatever’s asked of me.
And that is where Ben Stokes excels with his commitment towards his team.
A man who plays only for his team, not personal records, will never hesitate to push his limits. Ben Stokes is an excellent example of it. By contributing whenever it is required, Ben Stokes has become a talisman of the English team.
This is what Former England Captain, Michael Vaughan tweeted after the English’s victory against the Windies:
This is what happened when MS Dhoni was at his peak. He changed the way cricket was being played. Consequently, every team management started to look for the unorthodox skill sets from their respective regions.
Likewise, Stokes, from England with his extraordinary commitment towards the game, is setting the trend in cricket.
A trend that demands the whole of the energy from the players. It’s all about giving 200 percent for the team.
Sooner many youngsters would want to be the match winners for their team. And it is us the spectators who are going to get the feast of witnessing high-class cricket in the coming days.
Cricket is merely getting more interesting with the supernatural talents like Ben Stokes.