Category: Ben Stokes (page 1 of 3)

England unclear on whether or not Ben Stokes has been suffering ‘the wild shits’

You’d think with all their well-paid medical staff they’d be able to distinguish between the wild shits and the common-or-garden variety, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.

Alastair Cook said:

“He’s had a 24-hour bug, he didn’t look very well yesterday apparently but he’s here now and we’ll see. He should be fine, but we have to be careful – it depends how badly he has been knocked about.”

Even from this distance, the evidence is pretty clear. There is no way in a million years that a case of the wild shits could ever be overcome in just 24 hours.

How badly has Stokes been knocked about? Not very badly at all. He’ll almost certainly be able to play the second Test.

Ben Stokes makes things happen

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

To which one can only say: who doesn’t make things happen?

We just made a typo happen, for example. Shortly afterwards, we made a correction happen. A littler earlier, we made a cup of coffee happen. Jade Dernbach makes wide long hops happen. Shaun Marsh makes hard-handed edges to the slips happen.

Everyone makes things happen. Having some sort of tangible impact on the world around us is what separates us from the ghosts.

But Stokes, he’s different. He makes things happen. The main thing he makes happen is that he makes commentators say: “Ben Stokes makes things happen.”

Today Stokes took one wicket and doubtless someone somewhere remarked on his thing-happen-making ability. The rest of the time he didn’t take wickets and you rather wish he would have.

He is however capable of making exceptional eye acting happen.

Ben Stokes out obstructing the field

We haven’t seen this incident yet, but it appears to be big news. That happens whenever someone’s dismissed in a weird way and when there’s also a ‘should he have been given out?’ element, you effectively get two stories for the price of one.

As far as we can tell, it was precisely fifty-fifty whether Stokes was given out or not. We know this because reports feature expert opinion from both the Australia captain and the England captain. The former said it was out. The latter said it was not out. Opinion is therefore equally split and there’s simply no way of determining the rightness or wrongness of the decision.

“The umpires are there to do a job, to make a decision,” said Smith, who, to be fair to him, does always back the umpires when they make a decision in his team’s favour – every time; without fail.

If there is a silver lining to this, it’s that someone was given out obstructing the field. These more obscure modes of dismissal rarely get an airing. Hopefully somebody will be timed out in the next match.

Ben Stokes can swing a cricket ball and also a bat, but we don’t need to be told that he isn’t Botham or Flintoff

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photos by Sarah Ansell

“We don’t want to say he’s going to be the next Botham, or the next Flintoff,” said Trevor Bayliss. England’s coach then veered away from an already painfully familiar statement somewhat by adding: “He’ll be the next Ben Stokes” – as if we’ve had one already.

Every time anyone says “he isn’t the next Botham” or “he isn’t the next Flintoff,” all they’re doing is reinforcing the idea that this is precisely what Ben Stokes is. He’s the next Botham AND the next Flintoff; the latest in a lineage of bombastic England all-rounders with a strangely overlooked patch where Tony Greig should be.

Of course Stokes isn’t the next Botham in the sense of being identical to him and liable to perform precisely the same feats. We’re not idiots. We know that. He hasn’t been bred in a tank using Beefy DNA and raised in an artificial reality in which he was given all the same experiences growing up. But like Botham, he hits the ball hard – like Flintoff too. And all three bowled fast-medium and had a reputation for enjoying a drink.

In many senses, this is what you’d expect. There are plenty of aggressive batsmen around, England produces fast-medium bowlers by the boatload and Mark Wood and Moeen Ali are the only two men in the current team who don’t drink.

Cricket - Investec Test Series 2015 - England v New Zealand - Lord's Cricket Ground, London, England

It is quite an English archetype though. Australia produces more than its fair share of fast bowlers, leg-spinners and top quality batsmen, but the nation’s all-rounders are often a bit insipid. Maybe Mitchell Marsh will one day buck this trend, but at present he feels just a bit Shane Watson-ish – promising, but ultimately disappointing.

English all-rounders are different. The national side survives without one, but always seems to become a great deal stronger with one. They’ve now come along often enough that we should actually make some effort to distinguish between them rather than just parrotting the ‘not the new…’ line.

A striking development this weekend was Ben Stokes’ swing bowling. In, out, and moving the ball miles, it persuaded Trevor Bayliss to confusingly suggest that he could become ‘the next Jimmy Anderson’. Botham was of course an exceptional swing bowler (it’s perhaps the one topic on which he commentates well), while Flintoff wasn’t – although he was probably the most adept of the three at reverse swing.

If you saw Stokes eat a banana on Saturday, you’ll agree with Jarrod Kimber that Stokes does everything violently. At one point he retrieved his cap from the umpire with a huge downward swing of the arm, as if he was trying to slap through a block of wood with his bare hand. Violent swing appears to be the latest manifestation of this tendency.

You’ve kind of seen this thing before, but you also haven’t. He’s like Botham and Flintoff, but also different.

Ben Stokes: Brutal Deluxe

There are times for thoughtful analysis and there are times for giddy enthusiasm. Today is clearly the latter.

At the peak of his powers, if you said the name ‘Flintoff’ to someone during a match with the right look in your eye, that person would immediately drop whatever they were doing and rush to the TV because no-one wanted to miss a moment of one of his innings. Already, Ben Stokes seems like Flintoff Deluxe – Brutal Deluxe, if you will.

In this Test, Stokes made 193 runs off 186 balls, hit 30 fours and four sixes. He emerged at 30-4 and at 232-4 and had a massive impact in both situations. He has achieved the impossible and made the arrival of Jos Buttler feel like something of an anticlimax.

A mechanical watch is full of all sorts of sprockets and cogs and springs and screws and when all those components are correctly positioned, everything works satisfyingly smoothly. But then there are other devices, like hammers, which do the job for which they are intended equally well without requiring all that complexity.

Stokes is very much a hammer. Not many of his shots go behind square and each makes a clean percussive sound you rarely hear even in this era of power hitting. This is a batsman who hits the ball with the middle of the bat and propels it forwards. That’s his method and may he never complicate it.

Kudos to Alastair Cook as well. He was there before Stokes and he was there afterwards. It was his day too.

If Stokes enjoyed himself in the afternoon, the morning was no time for fun. There was work to be done. The lawn needed mowing, the dishes needed doing, the laundry needed hanging out. It was only once all those jobs had been ticked off that England could relax and start enjoying themselves. Suppose that’s teamwork or summat.

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