- England Test captain Ben Stokes is closing in on his 100th Test form
- The 32-year-old is expected to reach his peak in the third Test against India
- He became the 74th cricketer and the 16th Englishman to reach the milestone
England Test captain Ben Stokes is on the verge of making his 100th century.
The 32-year-old is expected to reach his peak in the third Test against India, which starts in Rajkot on Thursday.
Stokes will join legends Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Virat Kohli in making his 100th Test appearance.
Stokes will become the 74th cricketer and the 16th Englishman to reach this milestone, following the likes of Kevin Pietersen, James Anderson, and Stuart Broad.
On the eve of his 100th attack, Mail Sport’s Richard Gibson looks back at England captain Ben Stokes’ most successful Test performance.
v New Zealand: 92, 101; 0-105, 3-38 (Lords, 2015)
A taste of Bazball was given when the new England No 6 – he was seven recently in the Caribbean and as low as eight last summer – responded to 30 for four with the opposition.
“You can tell you’re up against Brendon McCullum’s team by looking at the field,” Stokes said.
Yes, he saw the bumps and bruises, and the gaps that tempted him to play his strokes. Hitting these runs helped England post 389, and, winning in the first innings of 134, they scored Lord’s fastest Test hundred, off just 85 balls.
In his last attempt, with the ball, he dismissed Kane Williamson and McCullum in quick succession to send the home team to a stunning victory.
v Australia: 5; DNB, DNB, 6-36 (Trent Bridge, 2015)
Stokes’s sensational claw grab to chase Adam Voges, as the ball flew behind him at fourth down, created one of the most iconic images of the Ashes – the look of disbelief on the face of first-day hero Stuart Broad was instantly unforgettable.
Broad dropped Australia for 60 to alleviate Jimmy Anderson’s absence, but it was Stokes, swinging the ball with enthusiasm, who stepped up again to help England regain the Ashes with a match to spare.
First, he broke the Australian opener’s century mark and showed less versatility as a bowler by shooting in this and that way, rewarding the three Aussie no-swingers who were released around the wickets.
v South Africa: 258, 26; 1-100 (Cape Town, 2016)
His hundred men had come in the distant Ashes, but this one was not across the sea but in another land. Innings on steroids.
As Stokes recalled, he ‘just went and didn’t stop,’ eschewing advice from skipper Alastair Cook to play on the second morning and hitting seven of his first 15 to the boundary instead, to go from his overnight 74 to 3 figures.
Legs down, he went from 100 to 200 in 58 balls, placing him second only to Nathan Astle for the fastest runs in Test cricket. His 11 wickets were second only to Wasim Akram in Test innings.
‘I’ll never play like this again in my life,’ he said. Fortunately, he was wrong.
v Australia: 8, 135*; 1-45, 3-56 (Headingley, 2019)
As a ghostwriter for On Fire, his epic summer story, I had the pleasure of witnessing this legendary innings twice alongside Stokes.
Listening to him go through ball by ball in legal detail was fascinating: the clinical thinking, the second thoughts about what the Australians would do next, the execution of his plans.
Mixing brains – knowing runs didn’t matter and the only thing that mattered was the near miss, he finished the day third on 50 balls – and brawn, his performance of a lifetime took England home during an unflinching 76-run 10th wicket that had drama enough to satisfy Netflix nuts for a year.
v West Indies: 176, 78 *; 1-29, 2-30 (Old Trafford, 2020)
It has been a part of his work that disappointments have been fixed quickly, and very impressively. Standing in for Joe Root earlier in the month, Stokes lost his first Test as England captain.
He left the bag but none of the responsibility of driving the team to consecutive victories.
After batting at every venue from 3-11 in Tests, here he opened for the first time, following a hundred steps by empowering his hosts at a venue that made the rain-soaked third-day loss irrelevant.
A quick fire declaration gave England 85 overs to dismiss West Indies for the second time. He needed only 71; Stokes, naturally, is breaking the contract in the worst possible way.
v Australia: 17, 155; 0-21, 1-26 (Lord, 2023)
Proof that a winner’s mindset doesn’t always lead to success.
Stokes watched another exciting game, refusing to give up because of the loss, when he arrived at the crease with the scoreboard reading 45 for four on the fourth over.
Inspired by the menacing atmosphere at Lord’s, created by Jonny Bairstow’s footwork, and a pantomime performance from Stuart Broad at the other end, he remembered the Headingley shot four years earlier and hit his foul ball.
The innings showed two sixes until Stokes gave up. He struck out nine. While there, England tried to dream again.
Creaking, the Australians gave him life. Their heads fell. But one mistake ended the joy and reminded us that failure remains one of its many characteristics.