February 3, 2023

At the start of the year, England’s Test cricket looked broken.

The man who would eventually fix it was also a bit broken, with Ben Stokes battling a side strain during the fourth and fifth games of an Ashes series. England lost 4–0, a ​​thrashing that came amid a wider slump of one win in 17 Tests. matches.

But Stokes has since returned to health and so has, in a barely believable way, the England test team. Under Stokes’ captaincy and Brendon McCullum’s coaching methods, ‘Bazball’ was born. That ultra-positive brand of cricket has racked up nine wins out of ten, shattering run-rate records and manhandling opponent bowling attacks. This is Ben Stokes’ England.

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Stokes digests historic 3-0 sweep in Pakistan and praises his side’s fearless attitude

We got a glimpse, though we didn’t know it at the time, of what Ben Stokes’ England might look like when he hit 89 runs in session during a 114-ball hundred against the West Indies in March, his first century since his return from a mental health hiatus and the death of his father, Ged.

However, we caught another glimpse of what England had been dishing up over the past 18 months – a batting collapse – with a capitulation in Grenada that subjected the tourists to a 1-0 series defeat. Joe Root resigned as captain soon after, with one man on pole position to succeed him.

Stokes seemed the only viable candidate with few others apart from he and Root guaranteeing a place in the XI at the time. The Test futures of bowling stalwarts Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad were even up in the air with the duo left out of the West Indies series by interim director of men’s cricket Sir Andrew Strauss.

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Stokes revitalized England’s Test team, propelled them to T20 glory and retired from ODI cricket

Questions were raised about whether it was wise for England to hand over the reins to their most important and influential player, especially one who had taken time out the previous year to focus on his well-being. Those questions soon evaporated and now it seems amazing that they were even asked in the first place. Results and style proved that Stokes was definitely the right man.

Shortly after being appointed and making it clear he wanted Broad and Anderson back in the England XI, Stokes made mincemeat of Worcestershire’s bowling attack while batting for Durham in the County Championship. Seventeen sixes were smoked in his score of 161 off 88 balls – five of them in as many deliveries from poor Pears spinner Josh Baker.

It was an innings of flair and power as he encouraged his fellow countrymen in England to play Test cricket. He got what he wanted. England scored 22 Test hundreds in 2022, many of them since Stokes took the lead incredibly quickly.

It was a measured, but by no means slow, 157-ball hundred from Root that gave the Stokes era a victorious start on an overcast Sunday morning against New Zealand at Lord’s. Any metaphorical clouds still hanging over England were cleared as they won a Test for the first time since August. There has been no looking back. Win enough. Runs plenty. Fans love Test Cricket again.

Stokes reached the winning frontier in the following Test at Trent Bridge, before a packed fifth-day crowd who had taken advantage of the offer of free tickets, but only after Jonny Bairstow blasted the Black Caps across Nottingham in a post-tea attack and reached his century with just 77 balls.

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Michael Atherton says England’s ‘incredible transformation’ in Test cricket is due to taking on captain Stokes’ aggressive and selfless traits

The skipper then had a brief viewing assignment at the end of the next two Tests, donning his John Lennon sunglasses on the balcony as Root and Bairstow propelled England to surprise victories over New Zealand at Headingley and India at Edgbaston. The successful chase against India, a record 378, was achieved in just 76.4 overs. England were four from four in part one of the Test summer.

Part two started with the side’s only loss to date under Stokes – an innings batting against South Africa at Lord’s – but instead of England being too aggressive the talk was that they were too timid and old weaknesses were there crept in again. have delivered. A Stokes-led response came in, with England handing an innings to the Proteas at Emirates Old Trafford, a week after suffering one of their own in North London.

The skipper may have been too skittish with the bat earlier this summer when he tried to hammer home the way he wanted his team to play, but in the Manchester Test, on the day his warts-and-all Amazon documentary, Phoenix from the asheswas released, he scored an amazing 103 off 163 balls at the perfect pace.

Stokes then was the spoilsport with the ball a day later, knocking out set South African batsmen Keegan Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen on a massive 14 over run ahead of the second new ball before England won in three days.

Great moment I’m at it again.

Another three-day victory in the final test at The Kia Oval marked a series victory and a glorious golden summer. But how would Bazball work in December in Pakistan? Very well, it turns out. England won 3–0 against an admittedly bowler-depleted home side, with victory at Rawalpindi arguably Stokes’ best of his nine wins as skipper. On the flattest of fields, his captaincy reached new heights.

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England head coach McCullum described captain Stokes as a ‘maverick’ and a ‘genius’ after Pakistan’s historic 3-0 run

After watching his team become the first to beat 500 on the first day of a test, Stokes’ bold statement over tea on day four, leading Pakistan to a tantalizing 343 in four sessions, gave his side time to take 10 wickets and he then helped make sure they got them, delaying using the new ball while the old one deteriorated and finally putting it into play before spinner Jack Leach took the final wicket with about 10 minutes left in the day five.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a better week as captain,” he said Sky Sports Cricket Nasser Hussein. “Every decision Stokes made was perfect.”

Stokes continued to make smart decisions over the next two Tests – inventive pitches, clever bowling changes – and some incredibly daring ones too – handing leg spinner Rehan Ahmed his debut at 18 years and 126 days – as England won at Multan and Karachi, too.

Smart and bold decisions by Stokes over the past seven months have revolutionized the England test team. After having a nightmare in the Ashes series last winter, England could be a nightmare for Australia next summer.

Stokes’ year in white-ball cricket, meanwhile, was one of retirement in the 50-over format and redemption in the 20-over version.

The 31-year-old dropped out of one-day internationals in July over an “unsustainable” schedule, saying players “are not cars you can just fill up with”. Stokes’ decision reminds the game’s organizers that if they want to see more of the best players, they may need to play less cricket.

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Watch the highlights of the T20 World Cup final as England beat Pakistan by five wickets at the MCG to become double white balls world champion

However, Stokes continues to play T20 cricket and England is eternally grateful to him for that.

His intelligent innings of 52 not out secured victory over Pakistan in the World Cup Final at the MCG, three years after his intelligent innings of 84 not out proved crucial in securing victory over New Zealand in that unforgettable 50-over World Cup Final at Lord’s.

Great moment I’m at it again.

Stokes, who had led England past Sri Lanka to the semi-finals with another unbeaten run in Australia a week earlier, remained upright in a T20 World Cup final six years later after falling on his haunches and in tears after he had been smoked. for four consecutive sixes by the West Indies’ Carlos Brathwaite in the 2016 showpiece.

It was quite a turnaround. But it is the Test turnaround he engineered for which Stokes’ year will be most remembered. That Ashes pain he and England felt in January now seems a lifetime ago. From getting broken to breaking records, with Stokes as the catalyst.

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