England look to action man Stokes
LONDON: Ben Stokes would be the first to say England are more than a one-man team but if anyone sums up their revival in limited overs cricket it is the dynamic Durham all-rounder.
Just over two years since a defeat by Bangladesh in Adelaide sealed their embarrassing firstround exit from the 2015 World Cup, England face the Tigers in the Champions Trophy opener at The Oval on Thursday with genuine optimism they can at last win a first major one-day international tournament.
Part of the reason for that is Stokes.
The son of a former New Zealand rugby league international, he also had cricket in his genes thanks to his mother, Deborah, a noted player.
For all the 25-year-old’s power strokeplay — as exemplified in his blistering 79-ball 101 featuring 11 fours and three sixes during England’s two-run win in the second one-day international against South Africa at Southampton on Saturday — Stokes’s batting is based on a sound straight drive.
His aggressive approach is one that has served him well in all formats, as he showed with a blistering Test-match 258 from 198 balls against South Africa at Cape Town last year.
On his day, and in the right conditions, he can also be an effective right-arm swing bowler.
Proof of the growing regard in which Stokes, also a fine close catcher, is held came when he was paid a record US$2.16 million (RM9.22 million) to play in this year’s Indian Premier League.
Stokes’s left knee, which was operated on last year, however, is preventing him from doing much bowling at the moment.
Stokes tried to play down concerns by saying Saturday: “It’s just the bowling that’s getting affected by my knee.
“Batting, fielding and running around isn’t an issue.”
England will settle for that.
All-rounder Ben Stokes has been instrumental in the revival of England in limited overs cricket.