Ben Stokes, 'remember the name'!

Monday, August 26, 2019

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Dear Editor,

In the 2016 World T20 finals Carlos Brathwaite hit Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes to take West Indies to a memorable victory. In all the furore, former West Indies fast bowler, now-turn-commentator, Ian Bishop, in reference to Carlos Brathwaite, used the phrase “remember the name!”

Whilst Brathwaite celebrated with head high and hands aloft, Ben Stokes was left crouched over in tatters and tears.

Fast-forward to 2019, Ben Stokes has risen to the heights of cricket globally, whereas Carlos Brathwaite has flattered to deceive. In the 50-over World Cup, just concluded in England, Ben Stokes's brilliance saw England becoming champions of the world in that format for the first time in their history, whereas Brathwaite's brilliance was limited to one match, the same match in which he later erred — an error that cost him and his team a famous victory.

The ICC Test Championships have begun and on a day when West Indies were humiliated by India in their first match, Ben Stokes played arguably one of the best innings in Test match history, and certainly by an Englishman.

England were chasing a massive 359 for victory to ensure they stand a chance of regaining the Ashes, and when Stokes walked out to bat the English would have been quite confident, but the events that later unfolded no prophet could predict, no fortune teller could foresee.

England began day four of the Test match needing 203 runs to win, with Stokes on two, and by lunch had reached 238-4, requiring a further 121 runs for victory. After lunch the Aussies struck, taking command of the Test match. In the blink of an eye the English found themselves at 286-9, requiring a further 73 runs with just the last pair.

But then came the 'Ben Stokes show'. He pelted the Aussie bowlers all over the park; sixes and fours began to flow freely like the traffic on the 'new' Mandela Highway. He got to his hundred with a cracking pull shot through midwicket and continued putting the bowling to the sword. The Aussies had no clue; they could only stand in awe as Stokes and England approached victory and, with one run to win, he played a spanking cut shot off the back foot through the covers for four, victory was complete, a remarkable one for the English. The last pair put on 76 runs in the winning partnership, Jack Leach, the other batsman in the partnership, his contribution, one not out.

In taking England to victory and levelling the Ashes series 1-1 with two more matches to come, Ben Stokes played one of the all-time great Test match innings. He was patient for most of his innings, playing each delivery on its merit and giving the bowling the respect it deserved, but when he realised patience would not get the job done he changed gears and unleashed brutal destruction on the bowling attack, sparing no bowler.

In 1999, at Bridgetown, Barbados, versus Australia, Brian Lara made a magnificent 153 not out to take West Indies to victory — an innings that is etched in the memory of cricket fans world over. Likewise, Ben Stokes's 135 not out is another of those unforgettable match-winning performances that will be talked about for generations to come. Remember the name? Yes! Ben Stokes is surely a name cricket fans won't be forgetting any time soon.

Kemar Bogle

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