Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, Ben Stokes embarked on a cricketing odyssey at 18 with Durham in England. Making his first-class debut in 2010, he evolved into a left-handed all-round batsman, instrumental in England’s ICC World Cup victory in 2019. A key bowler in the middle order, Stokes also bowls right-arm medium-fast.
Early Career and England Call-Ups:
Stokes’ early days included a stunning century against India in the 2010 Under-19 World Cup. 2011 was remarkable, with abundant runs and wickets. A breathtaking century against Hampshire, featuring five sixes in one over, showcased his prowess. Despite a broken finger, he continued to play for England Lions. A call-up for England’s ODI series against Ireland and debut in T20I against Windies followed.
Fulfilling Debut and Early Success:
2013 saw Stokes’ Test debut in the Ashes, with his consistent presence in shorter formats. Replacing Jonathan Trott due to illness, Stokes earned his cap at the Adelaide Oval. A debut Test century in the challenging conditions of the WACA and a maiden 5-wicket haul in Sydney marked his emergence amidst England’s struggles.
Challenges and Transformation:
Stokes faced inconsistency in 2014, temporarily replaced due to form. Excluded from the 2015 World Cup squad, his struggles prompted England to embrace an aggressive strategy – ‘New England.’ Stokes’ role was pivotal in embracing fearless cricket.
Milestones and Breakthrough:
2015 cemented Stokes’ position. Quickest Test century at Lord’s and a rapid double century against South Africa showcased his batting prowess. His partnership with Jonny Bairstow exemplified his impact. His place in the XI became permanent, solidifying his role.
Challenges and Controversies:
Stokes endured a low point during the 2016 T20 World Cup, unable to defend runs in a crucial over. 2017 brought a scandal after an altercation outside a club, leading to suspension. Excluded from the Ashes, his reputation suffered.
Resounding Performance in the 2019 World Cup:
Stokes shone in the 2019 World Cup, with impactful contributions in both batting and bowling. The iconic moment came in the final, as he scored an unbeaten 84, steering England to a Super Over. Named Player of the Final, his calibre was globally recognized.
Leadership and Retirement from ODIs:
Stokes battled personal troubles and injuries, opting for county matches over the 2022 Indian T20 League. Appointed England’s leader following Joe Root’s resignation, he, along with coach Brendon McCullum, heralded the ‘Baz Ball’ era. Victories over New Zealand and India marked his leadership.
On July 18, 2022, Stokes stunned the cricketing world, retiring from ODIs due to the strain of managing three formats. His journey, rife with challenges, leadership responsibilities, and personal growth, defines an era of transformation in English cricket.