Rise of Ben Stokes: Agony to Ecstacy
How many of us believe that life gives us a 2nd chance? I guess a few of us. How many of us believe life gives us a 3rd chance. I bet no one! For those who feel life never gives us a 3rd chance, think again. Here’s a story of a guy who got 3 chances to redeem himself to become a national hero. I’m talking about BENJAMIN ANDREW STOKES, or Ben Stokes.
If we take a look at the journey of Ben Stokes, I assure you there can be a great Bollywood movie made. Such is the character and the measure of the man.
Its Never A Cakewalk!
Ben Stokes was born in NZ, moved to England with his father at a very young age. He started his cricket playing career at Durham. At Durham, he caught everyone by surprise with his fast bowling, Clean hitting and by being a live wire on the field. Selectors spotted the spark in the guy and picked him for the England’s Under-19 squad. He eventually went on to play for England Lions where he went to Australia.
Things were going smooth and then as a Bollywood movie, there had to be twists and turns. Stokes was sent back home from the tour midway for disciplinary reasons. He went back home and shut his critics up by performing and getting picked in the 2013-14 Ashes Tour. He was the only positive for England during that tour. Scoring a century at the WACA which is generally considered as graveyard for Batsmen.
In his next tour to West Indies, he failed badly. He went in the dressing room and punched his locker so hard that he broke his wrist, and couldn’t take any part in the 2014 t20 WC. Coming back to form from injury took time. He didn’t please the selectors enough to pick him for the 2015 World Cup down under. England failed miserably there. A revamp was needed. Stokes was called upon. He started dictating terms on field. A 258 against South Africans at Cape Town announced himself at the world stage.
Embarrassed at Eden
The most embarrassing moment of Stokes cricket career came at the biggest stage of them all. Final of a t20 World Cup. Stage was set, England had one hand on the trophy. Stokes was assigned to bowl the final over with 18 to defend. West Indies had to score 19 and Carlos Brathwaite knocked the wind out of English sails by smashing 4 consecutive sixes to snatch a victory out of nowhere. England had lost the game but Stokes was in a state of shock. He was down on the ground and it would have certainly took someone years to get back on his feet and start playing after such an embarrassing situation.
Brawl at Bristol
The following year Ben Stokes found himself in a middle of another controversy. Just after the game he went to the nightclub, engaged in a brawl and then threw several punches at a guy. This was very serious. Stokes’ England career was in jeopardy. We knew this was the end of Stokes thanks to his indiscipline and unprofessional behaviour off the field. He was then removed as England’s vice captain and not selected for the Ashes 2017-18 which England went on to lose.
He moved on, trained harder, wanted people to know himself as a guy who would give everything on the field. Stokes meant business. You could see it in his eyes that he was in no nonsense mood. The hunger to succeed was more than the fear of failure.
Life Changing Year
2019 World Cup changed the dynamics of Stokes as a cricketer and England as a nation. Ben Stokes hit the ground running right from the first game where he single handedly defeated South Africa with his all round performance which was capped off by a sensational catch at the boundary line. England were there to stay and they needed Stokes firing from all cylinders in order to win the World Cup for the first time in their history. Stokes answered the prayers of the millions and did what no other English Cricketer could. Kept on fighting a lone battle, won matches from impossible situations.
His innings against Nz in the finals would be the highlight of his career. Chasing 241, every batsmen around him fell like 9 pins but Stokes was a thorn in the flesh between NZ and the World Cup. Stokes eventually won England the World Cup. It was ecstacy all over the country. So much so that they decided to give knighthood to the man himself. SIR BEN STOKES!
Stokes knew there was no stopping now. Ashes is a series where careers are on the line. We all know how an Ashes series is played. Australia won the first test comprehensively. England were reduced to Ashes. It had to be Stokes to resurrect England from an Ashes drubbing. Scored a ton in the 2nd innings which almost helped England win the test had it not been for rain and then in the 3rd test did something which cannot even be scripted so perfectly. Stitched a 76 run stand with Jack Leach for the final wicket scoring an unbeaten 135 to steer England through and won them the game with the skin of his teeth.
Stokes’ magic in Ashes
The innings against Australia in the 3rd test put the debate to rest. Ben Stokes is the best cricketer going around in World Cricket. Just when English fans had lost hope, Ben Stokes arouse from the Ashes to shred Australia into pieces. This was the best chase World Cricket has seen in an Ashes game. People might argue about Butcher’s 173 on a day 5 pitch but this was something special because it was with the tail. Doing everything on his own requires nerves of steel to pull it off.
Defeating New Zealand in the finals and Australia in the Ashes on his own meant Ben Stokes had now conquered the whole continent in a space of 6 weeks.
When you look at the journey, even you would agree that this can be a great script for a Blockbuster movie. Ben Stokes has come a long way. He is an example to all those who have experienced failure that sometimes it takes a great fall to know where you stand.
Ben Stokes is a role model for millions. World Cricket needs characters like Ben Stokes.
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