Well, what an absolute treat that was. Ben Stokes, with a little help from his fellow red head, Jonny Bairstow, contributed what can only be described as a superhuman performance this weekend.
The word “great” is bandied about all too often in the glitzy world of sport, but Stokes’s 258 from 198 balls will rightly be regarded as a great Test match innings, especially if England’s bowlers can secure victory over the next two days.
England have unearthed an all-action all-rounder of huge potential. This is not the new Ian Botham, nor the new Andrew Flintoff. This is the one and only Ben Stokes – the freckily, tattooed, man mountain from Durham.
In what could be a career-defining knock and the creation of an English cricket icon, South Africa simply did not have an answer to his full-blooded strokes. It was powerful, clean hitting at its very best. If you have somehow avoided the highlights reel thus far, here’s some of the fireworks.
It was a recording breaking innings for Ben Stokes. Here’s the best of his stats:
- Stokes’s strike rate of 130.3 (258 off 198 balls) was the second fastest for a 200-plus score in Tests.
- England’s number six faced 163 balls for his double-century – the second-fastest by any batsman ever. Nathan Astle hit 153-ball ton in 2002.
- Stokes scored 130 runs in the morning session on day 2 – the most by any batsman in the first session of a day in Tests.
- The Durham all-rounder smashed 11 sixes in his innings – the joint second-highest for any batsman in Tests. Wasim Akram once hit 12 against Zimbabwe in an unbeaten 257.
- Stokes’s blast was just the 16th Test match double-ton in Tests by a batsman batting at number 6 or lower.
- The previous highest Test score by an England batsman batting at number or lower was Graeme Hick’s 178.
Cricket’s all about partnerships, so we must not forget the brilliant contribution made by Jonny Bairstow (150*). The Stokes-Bairstow partnership also broke records.
- Jonny Bairstow’s 150* is the third highest by an England keeper in Tests, and their best in South Africa.
- The Stokes-Bairstow stand is the highest ever in South Africa and the highest for the sixth wicket by any team.
- The run rate of 6.91 during the Stokes-Bairstow partnership was the best ever in any 200-plus stand in Tests.
- The 399-run partnership was England’s second highest in Tests, losing out to to the 411-run stand between Colin Cowdrey and Peter May against West Indies at Edgbaston in 1957.
New Year. New Balance.
After witnessing this excellent exhibition of ferocious hitting, we anticipate huge interest in Ben Stokes’s cricket bat this week.
With Joe Root, England’s star batsman, now signed up to New Balance, the international sports brand now has the two most marketable assets in English cricket.
Ben Stokes carried out his assault on the South Africa attack with his New Balance DC 1080 Cricket Bat, which, as you predicted, is built for the powerful, contemporary batsmen.
Whilst we do have good stock at this time, these are likely to fly off the shelves, so don’t wait until the start of the cricket season before you purchase this stunning new blade. Buy now or cry later!