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’
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