Ben Stokes’ six of the best: On the eve of his 100th cap, Mail Sport’s Richard Gibson looks back at the England captain’s top Test performances
Ben Stokes, England’s Test captain, is about to join the 100 club.
The 32-year-old will reach the milestone in the third Test against India, starting in Rajkot on Thursday.
Stokes will join legends Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Virat Kohli by making his 100th Test appearance.
Stokes will become the 74th cricketer and the 16th Englishman to achieve this landmark, following Kevin Pietersen, James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
On the eve of his 100th match, Mail Sport’s Richard Gibson looks back at six of England captain Ben Stokes’ best Test performances.
Ben Stokes hit Lord’s fastest Test century in England’s win over New Zealand in 2015
v New Zealand: 92, 101; 0-105, 3-38 (Lord’s, 2015)
A taste of Bazball was provided when England’s new no. 6 – he was on seven in the Caribbean recently and as low as eight the previous summer – responded to a position of 30 for four with a counter-attack.
“You could tell you were up against a Brendon McCullum side by looking around the pitch,” Stokes said.
Yes, he saw slips and gullies, but also the gaps that tempted him to play his shots. Hitting those gaps helped England post 389 and then, overcoming a first-innings deficit of 134, he hit Lord’s fastest Test hundred off just 85 balls.
For his final trick, with the ball, he dismissed Kane Williamson and McCullum in successive deliveries to power the home side to an incredible victory.
v Australia: 5; DNB, DNB, 6-36 (Trent Bridge, 2015)
Stokes’ sensational clutch catch to dismiss Adam Voges, as the ball flew low behind him at fourth slip, created one of the Ashes’ iconic images – the look of disbelief on first-day hero Stuart Broad’s face that is instantly unforgettable.
Broad dismantled Australia for 60 to make light of Jimmy Anderson’s absence, but it was Stokes, who swung the ball lavishly, who stepped up for the second time to help England regain the Ashes with a game to spare.
First, he broke Australia’s opening century stand and displayed an underrated versatility as a bowler, hitting deliveries this way and that and out-swinging three Aussie left-handers with no swings released from around the wicket.
Stokes celebrates his double century against South Africa in 2016 in Cape Town
v South Africa: 258, 26; 1-100 (Cape Town, 2016)
His maiden hundred came in a way of Ashes, but this one was not only overseas, but otherworldly. A turn on steroids.
As Stokes recalled, he ‘just got going and couldn’t stop’, avoiding captain Alastair Cook’s advice to play himself on the second morning by instead hitting seven of his first 15 deliveries to the boundary , to move from his overnight 74 to three. numbers.
Foot to floor, he went from 100 to 200 in 58 balls, putting him second only to Nathan Astle in Test cricket’s fastest double hundreds. His 11 sixes were second only to Wasim Akram in terms of a Test innings.
“I’ll never play like that again in my life,” he suggested. Fortunately he was wrong.
v Australia: 8, 135*; 1-45, 3-56 (Headingley, 2019)
As ghostwriter for On Fire, his tale of that remarkable summer, I had the pleasure of watching this legendary innings twice with Stokes.
Listening to him go through it ball by ball in forensic detail was fascinating: the clinical thinking, second guessing what the Australians would do next, the execution of his plans.
The England star produced a stunning performance to seal victory over Australia in 2019
Mixing the brains – knowing that runs were irrelevant and the only thing that mattered was staying with the field, he ended day three on two from 50 balls – with the brawn, his performance of a lifetime got England home during an unbroken 76-run 10th-wicket stand that contained enough drama to satisfy Netflix nuts for a year.
v West Indies: 176, 78*; 1-29, 2-30 (Old Trafford, 2020)
It was a characteristic of his career that disappointments were the quickest to be rectified, and spectacularly so. Stokes stood in for Joe Root earlier this month and lost his first Test as England captain.
He gave up the armband, but none of the responsibility of leading the team to a series-tying victory.
After batting in every position from 3-11 in Tests, he opened here for the first time, following a methodical century by driving the hosts into a position that made the third day’s loss to rain irrelevant.
A quick-fire declaration gave England 85 overs to defeat the West Indies for a second time. They only needed 71; Stokes, of course, breaks the partnership of the greatest resistance.
v Australia: 17, 155; 0-21, 1-26 (Lord’s, 2023)
Proving that his winner’s mentality doesn’t always result in victories.
Stokes just fell short in another incredible match against Australia in 2023
Stokes played in another melodramatic game and refused to give up on a lost cause, having arrived at the field with the scoreboard reading 45 for four on the fourth night.
Fueled by a feverish Lord’s atmosphere, developed by Jonny Bairstow’s walking stumping, and a pantomime performance from Stuart Broad at the other end, he evoked memories of the Headingley robbery four years earlier with his ferocious ball strike.
A bumper storm of a match had two sixes until Stokes kicked off. He struck out nine. While he was there, England dared to dream again.
Crackling, the Australians gave him a life. Their heads drooped. But another miscue ended the fun and reminded us that fallibility remains one of his many traits.