The ultimate and final end to life has several names, beliefs, and meanings. They all converge at one common point though: death. In the cricket world, the name is used to refer to ending overs in a limited-over game, when the competition is at its pinnacle and every heartbeat is timed to the tick of the clock for all players. Ben Stokes has become a master of this art.
Within this article and when referring to Ben Stokes, the word “death” is used to associate exactly what it is meant to do: instil fear of the unknown; slow the world around to a screeching halt. Ben Stokes is known to have learned the ropes to face this fear bravely, as he steered his team towards two incredible victories in the middle of a looming cricketing death.
World Cup final, Lord’s
The World Cup’s most anticipated final began to slip through the hosts’ fingers. England’s team had scored 242 runs to bag the first Cup victory but found itself in an uphill battle against the Kiwis. Seven of England’s players were out at 220 runs and the team had to chase 22 runs within 1.3 overs. It was a wild goose chase but there was hope because of one player still in the game.
England profited well from the controversial six-run overthrow during the last over that led to the Super Over. Cornered with limited choices, Stokes’ unyielding courage at his stroke play saved the team in the nick of time. Stokes was not out at 84 runs off 98. Even though England did not win, Stokes ensured a tied match.
3rd Ashes Test, Headingley
Benjamin Stokes had one more inning that would outshine his World Cup achievement. In the third Ashes Test, Stokes’ unmatched 135 runs claimed an excellent one-wicket win for England, which is going down in history. It was similar to Cup final in spite of different formats. Stokes had continued to bat as death loomed in closer; there was no room for error, otherwise England’s aspirations would go up in flames like they did during the World Cup.
Ben Stokes has come a long way from his infamy with the publicized brawl. His batting agility is impeccable, and this is not even the highlight of his best performances. Stokes has shown great nonchalance as he cleared the boundary when just one wicket remained, in high-profile hits and also when fielders were braced for a catch.
His composure and self-assurance during these knocks speak volumes about his sportsmanship. For example, in Headingley, Stokes took calculated risks with perfect timing: guarded at first, then speeding up as conditions became favourable, then finally unleashing his full potential at the last wicket.
Stokes has shielded the tail well alongside Jack Leach. His outstanding batting expertise reflects his determination to save the team while looking at death straight in the eye. He knows where the wind is blowing like a skilled athlete; the ‘Special One’ as called by Ion Botham.