Root hails Stokes as ‘Mr In­cred­i­ble’

All-rounder in­spires vic­tory to level se­ries with West Indies Captain says Eng­land are in ‘the pres­ence of great­ness’

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - Cricket By Tim Wig­more

Joe Root hailed Ben Stokes as “Mr In­cred­i­ble”, declar­ing that Eng­land were “in the pres­ence of great­ness” af­ter Stokes in­spired a 113-run vic­tory against West Indies in the sec­ond Test at Emi­rates Old Traf­ford.

In a re­mark­able all-round per­for­mance, Stokes scored 78 not out and took two wick­ets to help level the se­ries on the fi­nal day, following his 176 in the first in­nings.

“He’s Mr In­cred­i­ble, I sup­pose,” Root said. “He just seems to get better and better. We are watch­ing a player at the peak of his pow­ers, at the peak of world cricket, de­liv­er­ing time and time again.

“We have to savour that, we have to ap­pre­ci­ate that and un­der­stand that we are – with­out try­ing to pump his tyres too much – in the pres­ence of great­ness.”

A spec­tac­u­lar catch by Ol­lie Pope at short leg sealed vic­tory with 15 overs of the day to go but it was Stokes who had put Eng­land in a win­ning po­si­tion by main­tain­ing his rich vein of Test form. He has av­er­aged 55 with the bat and 28 with the ball since the start of 2019.

“You don’t see many gen­uine all­rounders in world cricket,” Root said. “I cer­tainly think he can keep per­form­ing at this level. I think the sky’s the limit for him, when you watch how he goes about things, there’s no rea­son why he can’t keep per­form­ing this con­sis­tently.

“He’s your ideal se­nior player. He goes about his busi­ness ex­tremely pro­fes­sion­ally, works ex­tremely hard on his game. I think over the last cou­ple of years his bat­ting has gone up a cou­ple of lev­els – he’s re­ally added to what was al­ready a very com­plete game.”

Stokes made an­other cru­cial con­tri­bu­tion with the ball on the fi­nal af­ter­noon, dis­miss­ing Jer­maine Black­wood with a short de­liv­ery on the stroke of tea to end a 100-run stand that threat­ened to al­low the West Indies to escape with a draw.

“There’s a lot of hard work done by this group. We’re com­mit­ted to each other. It’s a great en­vi­ron­ment for young guys to come into,” Stokes said. “I think we’ve all an un­der­stand­ing of what we rep­re­sent. The role mod­els that we are.

“We want to pave the way for Eng­land crick­eters in 20 years’ time. It’s not all about the present, it’s about tak­ing the cap for­ward. We’ve a duty to win games but also to young­sters who want to as­pire to be like us.”

Root ad­mit­ted that Eng­land faced tricky se­lec­tion de­ci­sions be­fore try­ing to re­gain the Wis­den Tro­phy in the fi­nal Test, which be­gins at Old Traf­ford on Fri­day. Jofra Archer and James An­der­son are both likely to re­turn.

“To have so many op­tions to choose from is a fan­tas­tic place to be in,” Root said. “It’s something that we’ve wanted for a long time.”

Magic mo­ment: Ol­lie Pope dives full length to dis­miss Ke­mar Roach off the bowl­ing of Dom Bess for West Indies’ fi­nal wicket, clinch­ing vic­tory for Eng­land in the sec­ond Test and lev­el­ling the se­ries at 1-1

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