In his first-ever competitive match for Cockermouth Cricket Club, Ben stokes was literally throwing up due to nerves. This story was revealed by Geoff Minshaw to the Indian Express in an interview three years ago. On Sunday evening at Lord's, on the grandest of occasions, Stokes overcame all the nerves and anxiety as he propelled England to World Cup glory.
It was undoubtedly the greatest ODI of all time and Stokes was the star of the show. Entering the arena at 71-3, the English all-rounder first produced a breathtaking unbeaten knock of 84 to force the match in the Super Over, in which he struck a decisive boundary to set a target of 16 off the last six balls.
Firstly, Stokes had to overcome the disappointment of not winning the match for England. He had to overcome the guilt of having the ball ricochet off his bat and speed across to the boundary for four overthrows. He was apologetic but had to focus on his next mission.
England needed two of the final ball, but Stokes could only salvage a single. He threw his bat in anger, threw his head back in disgust and rolled his eyes as if to say ‘why me again'? Those scars from that last over in Kolkata during the World T20 final must have been reopened, at least in his mind. He trudged back to the dressing room, head bowed down and wondering if he would ever get a chance again.
As he ran back up to the dressing room through the infamous long room, Stokes was asked by skipper Eoin Morgan — if had enough energy to sustain the physical pressures of the Super Over? Stokes has never been a guy to shy away from a challenge and there was no way he was going to turn down the offer from his captain. The pads remained on and he galloped down the stairs, past the MCC members, and on the field.
Amongst all the drama of the Super Over, Stokes arguably executed the shot of the match. It was the third delivery of the over, the ball from Boult pitches only a foot outside the crease, it was almost a perfect yorker, but Stokes was deep in the crease, his back leg collapsing, but his weight was still coming forward and his leading foot stable enough for him to generate enough power to whip the ball through midwicket for a boundary. By the time the ball hit the ropes, Stokes was down on one knee as if he had clobbered a spinner, but this was against Boult in a World Cup final, in the tie-breaking over.
Stokes clinched his fist, tapped Buttler on his head as the pair returned to the pavilion. The determination of Stokes' face was evident. He has always been a competitor that was ready to scrap for each run. This was his moment in the sun, there was no way he was letting this opportunity slip. Even as he ran to the midwicket boundary and the crowd cheered for him, he gestured with his hands to calm the crowd down. It was to signify that this contest was still not done and he was not the hero yet.
It was only until Buttler whipped off the bails to run Martin Guptill out that Stokes whipped off his hat and sprinted in sheer adulation. It was a sight to behold. He had done it, he had propelled England to their first-ever World Cup glory. The horror of Kolkata was now a distant memory. The tension he had as a teenager playing club cricket in Cockermouth had been washed away. The only thought that would have reverberated in his mind was that he was a ‘world champion' and the ‘hero of the nation'.
Even as Stokes went to collect his 'Player of the Match' award, he could afford to laugh about that horrific night in Kolkata and rightly so. At the end of the match, Morgan called him a ‘superhuman".
"A lot of careers would have been ended after what happened in Calcutta. Ben on numerous occasions has stood up individually and in a unit for us. He leads the way in training, in any team meetings we have, and he's an incredible cricketer. And today he's had a huge day out and obviously, we are thankful for that",
Perhaps Morgan summed up Stokes' impact on the greatest 50-over game of all time by saying "Everybody watching at home will hopefully try and be the next Ben Stokes (smiling)."
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