England vice-captain Ben Stokes has got quite a reputation for his free-flowing and aggressive style of batting. One doesn’t need to look much further than his heroics against Australia at Headingley last year; where his counter-attacking shots helped England achieve a stellar, record, 359-run chase in the fourth innings. There’s a clear, power-packed, fifth-gear retaliation approach in his game, which makes him one of the greatest modern-era cricketers.
Having said that, Stokes has far more depth to his skills rather than a bland, one-dimensional hit-or-miss approach. His magnificent century in England’s ongoing test-match against the West Indies at the Old Trafford stadium is a strong testament to that statement. England were reeling at a troublesome 81-3 yesterday, when Stokes walked out to join opener, Dominic Sibley, in the middle. The duo lived through an unusually tough spell of spin bowling from Roston Chase (44-3-172-5); and stitched a firm, 260-run partnership that spanned nearly over a 100-overs to put the hosts in the drivers’ seat.
Stokes’ test-match career’s tenth century, however, was a departure from the typical, high-strike rate ‘Stokesy’ innings. The southpaw took his time in the crease, and acclimatized to his partner Sibley’s (120 off 372; SR: 32.26) defensive style of batting as he went about building his innings. His slowest test-hundred lacked its usual dash of powerful jabs through point and hefty pulls and switch-hits towards the on-side; which, in turn, allowed his fans to enjoy a more calm-and-collected experience.
Stokes’ amusingly effortless six
That’s not to say his innings was devoid of any spice and chutzpah whatsoever. By the time he had scored his century, Stokes decided to flex his arms and get some power back to his batting. In the process, he ended up hitting one of the most amusing boundaries anyone would have seen in recent times.
Stokes was batting on 115, and had faced 264-balls in his innings when Windies pacer Alzarri Joseph pitched him a length-ball. The left-hander decided to make of the loose delivery, and gently punched the cherry out of the park in the long-on area. We mean ‘gently’ when we say it; Stokes’ shot severely lacked foot-movement, and didn’t even have a complete follow-through, but in the end, the perfect timing fetched him an amusingly-memorable maximum. On-air commentators Micheal Atherton and Michael Holding couldn’t help but applaud Stokes’ perfectly-effortless hit. The all-rounder allowed himself a small moment of humor as he briefly held his picture-perfect shot pose for the cameras to capture.
That is ridiculous @benstokes38!
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 17, 2020
Brief scores (end of day-2): WI 32/1 (A Joseph 12*, S Curran 1-8) trail England (Stokes 176, D Sibley 120, R Chase 5-172) by 437-runs.