Recently, England captain Eoin Morgan quipped that Ben Stokes was good enough to walk into any side in the world. He can score big runs, pick key wickets and is a livewire on the field. On top of that, he has a knack of producing performances at crunch moments (in all 3 formats of the game) when his team really needs him.
In the ongoing Champions Trophy, Stokes has once again shown his mettle with the bat by scoring a handy 48 in the game against New Zealand, and a match-winning 102 against Australia. He hasn’t been as effective with the ball, but that only means he has saved his best for the last and may come good in the semi-finals and the finals.
Graeme Swann recently said in a segment for BBC Test Match Special, “Of all the moments Stokes has had in an England shirt, this is the finest. He’s always had the talent but he’s honed it and become world class. I mean, truly world class.”
“Stokes is batting with swagger and an air of arrogance, as if he believes he is one of the world’s best players,” he added.
Even Virat Kohli (who too can be called the best cricketer, because he is a captain with victories under his belt) could not ignore the phenomenon that is Stokes, and he recently tweeted, “That was a ridiculous shot by @benstokes38 off Cummins. One of the best I’ve seen in a while.”
In the IPL, Stokes became the most valuable player and did full justice to his price tag of 14.5 crores. He was instrumental in helping Rising Pune Supergiants reach the finals, but missed out at the last stage, due to national duties. Had he been there, RPS would probably not have (safe bet) lost the finals by a solitary run.
“He’s always looking to influence the game: with the bat, ball, or even in the field. Even in the field today (England vs Australia match in Champions Trophy) at mid-on, he saved a lot of runs. He went through a period today of about five overs where he was unbelievable. He always wants to be in the game. That attitude in itself… You know, a lot of guys with potential like that, when things aren’t going your way, go back into a corner. But that’s not Ben,” England captain Eoin Morgan was quoted as saying by Cricinfo.
The ICC rankings though tell a different story. Shakib al Hasan tops all the charts (Tests, ODIs and T20s) as the world’s best all-rounder. Ravindra Jadeja is also a solid contender considering he is a better bowler than Stokes, even though he may not be as good with the bat (he is yet to score an international hundred). Statistically, their averages are as good (if not, better) as Stokes when it comes to batting, bowling and fielding. Shakib and Jadeja are also far ahead of Stokes when it comes to taking 5 wicket hauls.
But neither of them have the class to score a blitzkrieg 258 off 198 balls (away from home) against a bowling attack like South Africa’s. And it’s because of knocks like these, that we think he is the best cricketer.
Fans of Shakib al Hasan have every right to disagree, and if you are one yourself, do leave your arguments in the comments below.