Unless you’ve been brought up watching cricket, it’s not the easiest sport to sell, particularly in the test format.
However 2019 saw the gentlemen’s game take centre stage as England brought home the World Cup in one of the most jaw-dropping, nail-biting, and utterly bizarre pieces of sporting history. At the centre of all of that was one man in particular.
Step up, Ben Stokes.
That performance was by no means a one-off though. In a generally poor showing from England in the Ashes, Stokes produced one of the most heroic innings of all time to keep the series alive.
Few would argue with the all-rounder being awarded BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year Award, many would go as far as arguing his case for a knighthood. Hell, give him whatever he wants.
Stokes has played a mammoth part in bringing the sport back into the limelight, helping breed a new generation of fans through these maverick displays and inspiring many to pick up a bat for the first time.
By the barest of all margins…
As a nation, England have been blessed with some incredible sporting achievements over the last couple of years. The Cricket World Cup final was the standout though, offering up a spectacle that no one could have ever predicted.
You cannot do that Ben Stokes
Thanks to his headline-grabbing batting performances, it’s almost easy to forget that Stokes is comfortably one of the best fielders around, a statement backed up by this gravity-defying grab.
When all hope seemed lost, Stokes dug in to deliver an outstanding show of resilience, both mentally and physically. As the wickets of those around him tumbled, Stokes hit an astonishing 135 not out as England overhauled a target of 359 – their highest fourth-innings chase ever.
On more than one occasion Stokes has been described as box office and it doesn’t get much more box office than hitting the fastest 250 in test cricket, taking just 196 balls to do so.
Blink and you’ll miss it.
In a generally faultless all-rounder performance against South Africa, Stokes hit 72 from 47 balls, claimed the final three wickets and took a record-breaking six catches to secure victory in Cape Town.
Featured image credit: Clive Mason Getty