England allrounder Ben Stokes celebrates his 29th birthday today. Having made his international debut in 2011, Stokes has emerged as the game's finest allrounder of the current era. But the sailing wasn't always smooth for the New Zealand-born allrounder. Stokes has time and ran into trouble for his controversies off the field.
In 2014, Stokes, after getting out for a first-ball duck against West Indies, punched the locker of his dressing room in frustration, which led to a fractured hand and exclusion from the 2014 World T20. Three years later, Stokes was once again all over the news and for not the best reasons. In September of 2017, Stokes was arrested after becoming involved in a street brawl near a nightclub with two men. Astray charges followed and Stokes was charged with bringing the game into disrepute by the ECB the Bristol incident. After Stokes pleaded guilty to the charges in December 2018, he was fined £30,000 and banned for eight matches.
Up until last year, Stokes wasn't the most popular cricketer going around. But by this time last year, it all changed as the allrounder banished the on and off-field demons at the biggest international cricket tournament when the World Cup came to England after 20 years. This was Stokes's chance at redemption and boy, did he get some.
It began with the stunning catch Stokes took against South Africa to dismiss Andile Phehlukwayo in. From there, Stokes proceeded to score a gallant 89 off 115 in a lost cause against Australia. Against Sri Lanka, Stokes endured another heartbreak when his 82 wasn't enough to secure a won despite England coming perilously close. But even as England battled on and entered the final, as it turned out Stokes had saved his best for the last.
Chasing 242 to win, England were shaky at 86 for 4 before Stokes took centre stage and fired England to a win in the final. Had it not been for his unbeaten 84, England wouldn't have been able to tie the match and head into the Super Over that ultimately declared them winners. Stokes put on 110 runs with Jos Buttler and even the wicketkeeper-batsman was dismissed for 59, Stokes held one end up. Three of England's lower-order batsmen were out for ducks, but Stokes ensured England did not come up anything short.
When you play an innings of a lifetime, what are the chances of repeating it in approximately a month's time? Well, only Stokes knows the answer as his epic heist in Headingley in the third Test. Set 360 to win, England were reduced to 286/9, but Stokes refused to throw in the towel. He scored an unbeaten 135 with 11 fours and eight sixes, single-handedly keeping strike for the most part and added 76 golden runs with Jack Leach for the last wicket for England which won them the game and levelled the series 1-1. Easily, the summer of 2019 belonged to Ben Stokes and he was rightfully named the Wisden Cricketer of the Year.