The whole last-over drama could have been avoided had it happened. The entire fiasco surrounding boundary count would have been avoided had it happened. New Zealand would have been World Cup winners by now, had it happened. Ross Taylor would have been the one to be credited had it happened. But fate had other plans as the New Zealand Cricket board's unfortunate decision saw New Zealand-born Ben Stokes play for England and emerge as one of the best all-rounders in the game.
In his recently-published book, Ross Taylor Black & White, a part of which has been reported by stuff.co.nz, Taylor revealed that back in 2010, when Stokes was playing alongside him for Durham, he had asked if the youngster would have wanted to play for New Zealand. And with Stokes showing a keen interest, Taylor revealed that he had reached out to then NZC CEO Justin Vaughan.
"He was 18 or 19 and very much a Kiwi,'' Taylor wrote. "Over a Guinness, I asked him if he wanted to come and play in New Zealand. He was keen so I sent a message to New Zealand Cricket CEO Justin Vaughan saying this guy Stokes was a really good young cricketer and interested in playing for New Zealand."
However, Vaughan stressed on Stokes starting from domestic cricket in New Zealand rather than fast-tracking the all-rounder to the national side. Taylor revealed that he knew Stokes needed a strong assurance from the board over his future in New Zealand team in a bid to convince the youngster make the move.
"Vaughan replied along the lines that he could start playing domestic cricket and we'd see where it went. I went back saying we'd have to offer him more than that because he wouldn't be interested if it meant starting on the bottom rung of the ladder. Obviously it didn't come to anything."
Taylor wrote: "Ben was sincere about playing for New Zealand, but NZC would've had to have acted swiftly and decisively and given him some pretty solid assurances, which Vaughan clearly wasn't prepared to do.''
Stokes had however made up his mind to play for England. In fact, in an interview to the same website as a 17-year-old, Stokes had revealed that his plan was "to play for England when I'm older. I call myself an Englishman now." That was a year before he had a conversation with Taylor.
He quickly progressed to the senior county team and later made his England debut in 2011. And as it happened, Stokes had played a key role in England's win against New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup final at Lord's.