“He was England’s crisis man throughout the World Cup and he stood up once again when everything was stacked against them. Yes, he had some luck go his way, but he had rotten luck in the group stages where he fought valiantly and kept losing partners. It couldn’t have come at a better time. He was England’s man”
There was one name all along through the English dressing room and the fans. Three years back in the final in 2016 and again, today in the World Cup final. It was the final over back then (2016) and it was the run chase here in this final (2019). One name, the name Benjamin Andrew Stokes would’ve echoed.
Ben Stokes was down on his hunches three years ago when England were in a World Cup final. It was the shortest format but it was agony for the then 25-year-old all-rounder. Four back to back sixes in that dreaded final over and Ian Bishop’s commentary resonated throughout cricketing fraternity of ‘Carlos Braithwaite, Remember the name!’
Stokes was distraught after that. But here he was in another World Cup final, a bigger one, a 50-over World Cup final! This was his chance for redemption. Moreover, England needed him. They really did. They were in all sorts of trouble. However, every time they were in trouble in this World Cup, it was Stokes who was at the forefront. In two of their losses in the middle of the tournament, it was Stokes who was the man who was leading the fight.
— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) July 14, 2019
381 runs in the tournament before the final but every run that Stokes scored in this final was more precious than all those 381 runs. He walked out to bat with England 71/3. The top three were all back in the hut and soon the captain followed. The pressure, the heat, everything was on!
Stokes had been in similar situations in this World Cup before. However, he didn’t have partners. This time he had Jos Buttler who rallied alongside him. The duo slowly but surely put England back on track. Stokes played second fiddle as Buttler took charge. Stokes kept ticking over and kept finding the odd boundary here and there but it was Buttler who was taking England forward.
The Buttler-Stokes partnership lasted 21.4 overs and they added 110 runs. However, just when the pressure and the asking rate was mounting, Buttler perished. Everything suddenly was on Stokes again. The Durham all-rounder had just gone past the fifty-run mark. He had taken 81 deliveries but that was the time for him to blast.
Chris Woakes came and went, Liam Plunkett scored a boundary but couldn’t hang around and it was literally Stokes who had to do it. Until the penultimate over (49th), Stokes had scored just two boundaries since Buttler’s dismissal. However, with 22 needed off 10 deliveries, Stokes slogged one and it was caught at long-on but Trent Boult stepped onto the rope and that was the life England needed. That was the life Stokes needed. Luck they said, but also, fortune favours the brave!
15 off the final over and down to 15 off four balls with two dots. Stokes gets done on one knee and bang, six! And then another stroke of luck as a throw from Martin Guptill hits Stokes’ bat and runs away for four overthrows. Stokes doesn’t take the risk after that. Two runouts but two runs as well to tie the game. It was Stokes who helped England come back in the game. With Buttler first and then all alone!
But there was a Super Over to be played and there he was, back on the park. Three runs off the first ball before he sweeps a near yorker for a vital boundary. He scored eight off three in the Super Over to set up England’s total of 15. Jofra Archer just about manages to hold his nerve and England become champions.
But it was all Stokes! He deserves every bit of the applause, the accolades and the player of the match. An unbeaten 84 in that tense chase, helping England tie the game and then brilliant again in the Super Over.
He was England’s crisis man throughout the World Cup and he stood up once again when everything was stacked against them. Yes, he had some luck go his way, but he had rotten luck in the group stages where he fought valiantly and kept losing partners. It couldn’t have come at a better time. He was England’s man.
From those four sixes in the final over in the 2016 World T20 final to the hero with the bat in the World Cup final in 2019, this is redemption for Ben Stokes! Three years, two finals, agony in one and ecstasy in another!