5 Reasons Why Ben Stokes Is The Most Valuable Player Of The Decade
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5 Reasons Why Ben Stokes Is The Most Valuable Player Of The Decade

The current world champions, England took almost twenty years to revamp themselves into the current invincible unit. They aren’t any longer a squad that pins their hopes on an overtly-reliable player or is solely looking forward for a flash of instinctive brilliance to sweep away their opponents off the field. They have now been dovetailed into a lethal group that has a replacement for every single player in every single category while each player in the English colours can contribute a significant difference in the game.

All of this gets even better with the incorporation of their leader, the hot-headed, brash, and one of the finest cricketers to have ever graced the game, Ben Stokes. Who would have imagined that the man who got embroiled in a major controversy after inflicting a severe breakdown on a commoner in a pub, was the one destined to lead his nation to unprecedented greatness?

 

The youngster’s never-give-up attitude

It was 2011 that a young man called Stokes came down the pike to showcase the hype surrounding him in domestic cricket. A belligerent southpaw, known for his exotic technique and combative approach came out in the middle against an ailing Ireland and was bundled home for a paltry 3 runs by Paul Stirling.

With a series of mediocre performances that at times were within inches of kissing ground zero, Stokes was axed off the side in 2012. This debar from his inclusion in the squad was also due to his tryst with inconsistency, not able to live up to his billing and a string of obnoxious injuries.

Coming back to the squad in 2013 for the prestigious Ashes, his initial contributions weren’t great but imperative enough for the selectors to consider his selection in the team. With wickets of Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin, he was slowly coming up to his age as expectations started building. He brought out the bunny off his hat in the second innings of the third test as he smashed a substantial 120 off 195 balls, that had impeccable class penned all over it.

 

First signs of the beginning of an impeccable cricketer in the making

Much to the astonishment of every cricketer, Stokes kissed his career’s pinnacle until then in the final test of the Ashes as he chronicled his best bowling with figures of 6 for 99 in the first innings. It was once again the same man who saved the blushes for England by scoring an imperative 47. Despite being hammered 5-0 by the Australians, Stokes managed to score a fighting 32 to keep England in the contention until the dying embers.

It was Ben Stokes who helped the English squad achieve their first victory of the ignominious Australian tour in the 9th match by scoring a brilliant 70 off 84 deliveries and also scalping 4 crucial wickets. Though he dealt a major hand in bowling for the final ODI with 3 crucial wickets, his bat couldn’t fire that night.

 

Overcoming anger-management issues

In the ensuing year, Stokes got himself poleaxed after a woeful showdown in the West Indies tour and was shortly shown the exit after punching a locker and injuring himself. This also led to the young lad being ruled out of the 2014 T-20 World Cup. Despite showing signs of spasmodic brilliance, Stokes failed to register his ticket for the English side due to his dalliance with anger-management issues and his inconsistent form.

In 2015, Stokes made an impressive start to the year with a fabulous 79 against West Indies but failed to follow it up with another bedazzling performance. He once again glittered with a stellar 92 against a formidable Blackcap side in the first innings of the opening test between the two nations which was followed by a blitzkrieg century from the southpaw, notching up the tag of the fastest Test century by an English cricketer, achieving the feat in only 85 deliveries. To make matters worse for the Kiwis, he notched up three crucial wickets in the final innings of the test and was named as the player of the match.

Stokes summoned his magic in the third ODI against New Zealand as he smashed an emphatic 68 before razing through the Kiwi batting order with extreme prejudice, chronicling 2 scalps. His impressive bowling performance in the decider helped England seal the series in thrilling fashion.

Once again conjuring stellar batting performance in the first game of the 2015 Ashes, Stokes fired a painstaking 52 in the first innings of the first test that raised the hopes of the English fans and he capped it off with a brilliant 42 in the second to steal the opener from the Aussies. He struck Australia a telling blow in the fourth Test of the series which saw him notching up 6 wickets for a meagre 36 runs conceded. This was his final major contribution in the tour against the Aussies.

He ended the year on a brilliant note registering impressive bowling figures of 4 for 57 against a substantial Pakistan and paved the way for England’s bragging rights with a glittering 57. He riveted the fanfare towards him when he suffered an excruciating shoulder injury in the final test of the series against Pakistan under scorching circumstances and yet came out to bat at number 11 through the intolerable pain only to showcase Asgardian resilience before being rooted out by the hosts once and for all.

 

Sheer domination in the circuit of batting

The southpaw once again showcased his class with an enthralling 258, coming out to bat in a situation where the English wobbled at 160 for 4. His innings comprised 30 fours and 11 sixes, also connoting the fact that he wasn’t just your signature Test player but an aggressive batsman who combines resilience with belligerence in perfect proportions. He was en route to building an impressive legacy as his stupendous performances bedvilled South Africa quite frequently as we all entered a new calendar year.

The man with the hot head delivered the most decisive showdown in the 2016 T-20 World Cup semi-final when he produced incredible figures of 3 for 26 to sail England to the finals of the tournament only to be hammered 4 gigantic sixes in his last over by Braithwaite to crush the English dreams.

His ascent to stardom accentuated with what you call a blistering showdown against Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the same calendar year.

Despite producing a couple of shining performances against Indian and West Indies, Stokes couldn’t fire himself to glory to end 2016 on a categorical note.

 

The man in shape who dictates proceedings for England now

He cemented his legacy with two blistering centuries in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy against a formidable Australia and South African squad which also led him to be called for the Team of the Tournament.

The year 2017 was his breakthrough year as his consistent showdowns against South Africa and West Indies led him to several honours which included the likes of ICC nominating him for the World Test XI and ODI XI for the same year.

The year 2018 came to an abrupt halt for the English leader as got his rear handed to him over a nightclub brawl which brought the English cricketing image into disrepute.

After being selected for the 2019 World Cup squad, Stokes started the fray with a man of the match performance as scored a brilliant 89 and followed it up with 2 wickets, a runout and a couple of catches against South Africa. His catch of Andile Phehlukwayo was described as one of the best catches of all time. He shortly followed it up with an imperative 82 in England’s shock defeat to Sri Lanka.

His next stand of heroics was against Australia where he managed to register a brilliant 86 despite the performance going down in a losing cause. His pyrotechnics against India helped England survive the elimination scare as the southpaw registered a quickfire 70 off just 54 deliveries.

It was Stokes who offered the final resistance against New Zealand in the final with an unbeaten 84 which witnessed two massive sixes in the final over to produce an impossible tie that was followed by another dynamic showdown in the super over.

In the 2019 Ashes, his sedulous 135 in the final innings of the third test helped Australia avert a sheer defeat under the face of immense cosh.

He was declared as the English player of the tournament with a whopping 441 runs with the bat and 8 crucial wickets to draw the series level.

His brilliance stretched on to the South African series as well as he was named as the player of the tournament with a staggering 318 runs and 10 imperative scalps.

Throughout the years, Ben Stokes has been called out for his brashness time and time again, however, the man has drawn a fine line of scintillating brilliance between his anger-management issues and his stellar performances that have bailed out England in numerous occasions. He has a charismatic persona which compels the listener to pay heed to every single thing he has to offer and his aggressive mindset helps him to set the perfect tone for himself to destroy his opponents. This is the story of England’s greatest, Ben Stokes throughout the years.

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