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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Ben Stokes is born - from outcast to OBE

England v Australia - Headingley, Leeds, Britain - August 25, 2019 England's Ben Stokes and Jack Leech celebrate winning the Test
©Reuters
 

June 4, 1991 - With the holes that Ben Stokes has managed to dig himself into and out of over his international career, the easiest thing for a mere mortal would have been was to simply lose one's way.....

 

As early as 2013, when Ben Stokes was part of the England Lions squad for a tour of Australia, he was sent back midway for two breaches of discipline. Prior to the 2014 World T20 in Bangladesh, he hit a dressing room locker while reacting to a dismissal and broke his wrist.

Poor form then saw him miss the 2015 ODI World Cup. Next year, when he finally made it to the 2016 T20 World Cup, England were on the brink of victory in the final. Stokes was entrusted to bowl the last over with 19 to defend. Scales were heavily tilted in England's favour but Carlos Brathwaite stole the thunder with four consecutive sixes.

With Stokes down on his haunches and inconsolably repentant, it seemed that it couldn't get worse for the Christchurch-born. However, in September 2017, his professional and personal life hit rock bottom.

Stokes was caught up in a fight outside a club in the early hours of the morning after he was celebrating an ODI victory in Bristol. The all-rounder was ultimately not charged with affray but the court proceedings meant that he missed the 2017-18 Ashes tour in which England suffered an embarrassing 0-4 defeat.

 

 

Stokes had been one of the best performers for England on their last Ashes tour albeit in another series defeat. The all-rounder had stood out, finishing as the second-highest scorer for the England side behind Kevin Pietersen, but with a way better average and 15 wickets to go along with that.

Not only did he miss the opportunity to better his Ashes record but was also stripped off the team's vice-captaincy. Stokes returned in 2018 to guide England to a historic 3-0 whitewash against Sri Lanka while touring.

The 28-year-old looked intent on proving his mettle yet again. 2019 turned out to be his year. He took England to a historic World Cup victory, making a memorable 84 not out in the final, before coming out to bat again in the Super Over and taking England to the the much-anticipated win.

The crisis man was at it again when he scored an unbeaten Ashes century at Headingley against all odds to save England the embarrassment of a meek series defeat.

Stokes was among English cricketers of his generation to blaze a trail as far as the IPL goes. He was picked by Rising Pune Supergiant in 2017 for a whopping £1.7 million and proved his worth by finishing as the most valuable player of the season. He was roped in by Rajasthan Royals the following year for £1.4 million and has remained with them since.

Some of his most memorable performances include his scores of 92 and 101 against New Zealand when promoted to bat at number 6, his first-ever ODI century in Dhaka in 2016, best Test figures of 6/22 against West Indies at Lord's. And, of course, who can forget his scintillating 198-ball 258-run knock against South Africa in Cape Town as he scored the fastest double hundred by an England batsman and the second-fastest of all time en route to his record 399-run stand with Jonny Bairstow.

It is truly remarkable for a player who had become an outcast at one point in the wake of the Bristol row, to be appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his brilliant contribution to England's first-ever ODI World Cup victory.

What's scarier is that he is not even 30 yet.

 

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