Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff has said that Ben Stokes is better than himself and legendary all-rounder Ian Botham.
“If England needs a lift or a wicket he comes on and when he comes into bat you can feel it from the team, from the crowd and sat at home watching it on TV, that there is an expectancy something is going to happen. He looks like the heartbeat of the team – everything centers round what he’s doing. Everyone compares him to me but he’s better than me and, potentially, he’s better than Botham. Beefy won’t like it but who cares – we’ve got Ben Stokes!” the former England all-rounder said.
Born in Canterbury, the 26-year-old all-rounder made his debut in 2011 and had a dismal start to his career which saw him being dropped. It was only in 2013 that he got hold of international cricket. He scored a century in 3rd test of 2013-14 at Perth and was England’s lone century maker in the series.
Stokes slowly started making his mark in 2014-15. After the horrendous 2015 World Cup campaign, England decided to change the outlook of ODI setup which meant Stokes got more and more opportunities to cement his place. The talent he possessed made the selectors overlook his under-par performances and stick with him. It was only a matter of time before he repaid their faith.
The Cape Town Test in 2016 was a glimpse of his prowess. On 3 January 2016, he smashed the fastest 250 by a batsman in Test cricket (reached 250 in 196 balls). He scored 258 off 198 including 30 fours and 11 sixes. Throughout 2016 he proved to be a potent force for England with bat and ball both home and away. The 2016-17 India tour was going to be a litmus test for English players. Stokes weathered the vicious Ashwin and Jadeja on turning pitches well. Although his average was just 38 on the tour, he played turn better than most English batsmen.
2017 saw him bag a whopping 14.5 crores IPL contract with RPS and he played a pivotal role in getting his team to playoffs. Stokes is the arguably the most valuable fast bowling all-rounder in international cricket at the moment.
– by Atharva Apte