Ben Stokes is Back and Ready to Take England up Another Level
Ben’s back. That will be the underlying feeling in both the New Zealand and England dressing rooms after Ben Stokes’ man of the match performance in the second ODI.
After a low-key return to the international fold for the first time since September in England’s defeat to New Zealand in the opening ODI of the series at the weekend, Stokes put on a starring show with bat, ball and in the field as the visitors cruised to victory at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.
After playing his part in two run outs and claiming two wickets, Stokes produced a masterclass with the bat. Sharing a match-turning partnership of 88 with skipper Eoin Morgan, Stokes finished unbeaten on 63 from 74 balls as England chased down New Zealand’s total of 223 with 73 balls remaining.
He’s played more destructive innings during his career, but he oozed class, had an abundance of time and looked like he could have batted all day without any alarm against a New Zealand attack that is one of the best in world cricket.
It’s been a long time out for Stokes, and he is still facing a court appearance over a charge of affray, so to get a match-winning performance under his belt so early on in his return was a huge relief.
“It was a great feeling to be walking off the field there at the end not out, especially after a really commanding performance from the team. I was quite emotional walking off there at the end,” Stokes said, per Cricinfo. “Even walking on the field the first time and walking off tonight made me understand how much a privilege it is to represent your country. It was a different feeling to what it is normally but it was a great feeling to be walking off there.
“There was relief, happiness and obviously it’s been a long time. Hopefully now this is a stepping-stone on the road to trying to keep on helping England win games. We’ve got a massive summer ahead and the World Cup coming up after that as well so hopefully this is just the start of it.”
There are three ODIs and two Tests still to come with New Zealand – the 3rd ODI being on Saturday – and the home side will be desperately attempting to fashion a plan to quell the threat of Stokes.
But the Durham man has a steely focus about him to make up for lost time in an England shirt. New Zealand should be fearful, as indeed should the rest of world cricket as England have a player on their hands capable of feats few others in the game can even dream of.
England are priced at 1.61 by 188BET for victory in the third ODI, with New Zealand at 2.28, while Stokes is 7.00 to be England’s top batsman.