England’s remarkable summer started with some genius from Stokes, a stunning one-handed catch on the boundary in their Cricket World Cup opener against South Africa.
After then playing a major hand in some Super-Over madness that saw England lift said World Cup, Stokes was again at the heart of a truly incredible win at Headingley on Sunday, one to rival not only that late Lord’s drama in mid-July but anything in cricket that has come before.
He saved England from what seemed certain extinction in series when last man Jack Leach joined Stokes at the crease with 73 runs still required. Unbeaten on 61 from 174 balls at the time, he proceeded to smash 74 from his next 45 deliveries, including seven staggering sixes, to get England over the line. Not that that even begins to tell the whole story.
There was the extraordinary reverse-slog-sweep off Lyon for six, the ramp off Pat Cummins that also cleared the rope, the 16 runs in three balls off Josh Hazlewood as he brought up his hundred. Paired with such clean ball-striking was absolute clarity of thought in the most pressure-fueled scenario.
His feat was not without blemishes though, He benefited from rub of green England seems to be enjoying this summer. Marcus Harris dropped him, Nathan lyon embarrassed himself with a school boy fumble of a run out, Paine’s mishandling of reviews which saved him from sure LBW when Eng was trailing with only one run.