Cricket

Ben Stokes abandons Bazball to deliver his best innings as England Test captain 2022

Three years and a day after playing what is widely regarded as the best Test innings of all time, at least for England, Ben Stokes could not replicate his miraculous 135 at Headingley. But his best innings as England’s Test captain was not a bad follow-up.

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Stokes might have been tempted to use a provocative slogan to promote the release of his new film on the same day, but he didn’t. He played exactly the kind of innings his team needed if England were going to win the series after going 1-0 down. It would be only the third time England have done so in a three-Test series at home if they win here and at The Oval.

Some might say that South African captain Dean Elgar practically offered Stokes a second Test by not giving his strike bowler Enrich Noortje more than five overs until England’s lead reached three figures. Nevertheless, it was a brilliant inning from Stokes, as he played the match situation well, and his first slog was his last, as he was caught out for 103 off 163 balls.

Earlier this summer Stokes went from over the top, often literally, to mid-off down the pitch at the start of his innings. He wanted to convey his message to his players, not to fear failure. But this time there was no catch ball, whatever, and no bean ball, the way he played his first innings after being appointed England captain when he hit 17 sixes against Worcestershire in May: only Traditional Test Match Batting.

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Stokes himself played when England was still trailing South Africa’s first innings of 151. Nortje and Kagiso Rabada had to look out: England’s tailenders were not enjoying their pace. Soon the ball began to reverse swing even in the hands of two of South Africa’s most dangerous bowlers. Then it would be madness to attack them. And this was not the way of the Stoics.

The other bean, Fowkes, initially scored faster than Stokes. And boy, did they suck South Africa. Simon Harmer came to bowl his off-break – and held on! Nortje was on the ground for a second spell before lunch, but Fuchs did a superb job of cultivating a strike against Harmer and nursing him quietly but respectfully, to get Harmer before the lunch break. Not changed at all, and not directly after.

One piece of aggression that Stokes allowed himself was to slug Harmer for a six in the off-spinner’s first over of the day, so the bowler didn’t settle and gathered the fielders around the bat. done. Stokes gradually revealed himself after reaching his 50 off 101 balls, a steady rate – one with a straight six, and his second on Harmer.

Ben Stokes abandons Bazball to deliver his best innings as England Test captain 2022
Ben Stokes

Stokes picked up the pace only after reaching 50, but even the echoes of Ian Botham on this ground in 1981 – when he hit a six while being stopped by Chris Tavarre – were faint. He took 54 more balls to reach 98 by tea, and it was always batting, not hitting, let alone chanting.

The Stoics are the most remarkable men. England’s most fearless cricketer has admitted that he is surrounded by fear. This is why his team plays for him: he acknowledges, listens, and empathizes, then throws himself up.

The nightclub in Bristol, where one of his lowest moments took place, is currently undergoing a symbolic refurbishment. The upper floors of the late Georgian building look a touch shabby, but the ground floor, where Mbargo’s entrance is, is being repainted. Similarly, Stokes is reinventing England’s Test cricket, painting the traditional structure in vivid colors.

He was dismissed for 92 off Langi Ngidi. A close lbw appeal from South Africa was reviewed as he reached 96. At 98 at tea, facing Harmer, Stokes hit him again off Rabada to reach his 12th Test century, his first as Test captain – and although the Australian next summer Come on, don’t let it be the last.

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