Ben Stokes on the set of his Tactical Training video in Sunderland
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Cricket

7 of Ben Stokes' greatest ever innings

Want to know why Ben Stokes is feared by bowlers around the world? Check out the English all-rounder's finest knocks across all forms of the game...
Written by Adam Collins & JJ Dunning
9 min readPublished on
England's Ben Stokes has played some incredible innings in his cricket career. Here are six of the greatest so far...

1. 84 not out vs New Zealand – July 2019

The 2019 Cricket World Cup Final may go down as the most dramatic one-day match in history. It was also the first of two career-defining moments for Ben Stokes in the summer of 2019.
England – the host nation – came into the match against New Zealand as firm favourites, having thrashed Australia in the semi-finals by eight wickets. However, the final at Lord's was to be anything but a walkover.
New Zealand batted first, posting an impressive 241 on a soft pitch that made timing the ball difficult.
England's reply did not start well as they slumped to 86-4.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Stokes and the equally free-hitting Joss Buttler played uncharacteristically watchful innings to steady the ship. The pair pieced together a match-saving partnership of 110 before Buttler was dismissed for 59. With the scoreboard now reading 196-5, England had half a chance.
However, with only part-time batsmen left to come and the required run-rate creeping up towards eight an over, England's World Cup hopes rested almost entirely with Stokes.
In the 49th and 50th overs, he mustered two sixes. He then scored six more in bizarre circumstances as, when diving to make his ground for a second run, the throw from the boundary deflected off his bat and into the boundary rope for four more. Somehow, his 84* had enabled his team to reach 241 runs – making the game a tie and forcing a super over.
Buttler and Stokes returned to the field to face six more balls, scoring 15. The Kiwis fell one short of the 16 required to win the World Cup, and lost the match on account of having scored fewer boundaries than England during their innings.
Stokes' heroic batting performance earned him the Man of the Match award. It had taken an incredible amount of focus and mental effort, as his post-match interview showed.
"I'm lost for words," he told Sky Sports. "All the hard work over four years to be champions of the world – it's an amazing feeling. I'm pretty done, to be honest!"

2. 135 not out vs Australia – August 2019

Leeds’ Headingley ground is steeped in Ashes history. It was there in 1981 that England’s masterful all-rounder Ian Botham hit a match-saving innings of 149*. The innings has become legendary for the partnership he formed with an England tailender, the number nine batsman Graham Dilley. The pair put on 117 in 80 minutes; runs that proved vital as, against the odds, England went on to win the match.
It was expected that Headingley would never see something so dramatic again.
However, in the summer of 2019, in the third Ashes test of the summer, Ben Stokes summoned the spirit of Botham to play one of the finest test innings that the sport of cricket has ever seen.
With the series poised at 1-0 to holders Australia, this was a must-win match for England to save the Ashes.
But the test had started poorly for them. They had been bowled out for just 67 – with Stokes making 8 – in the first innings. Australia had made 179 and 246, leaving England requiring 359 to win the match. Oh, and if they were to chase down that total, it would be their highest-ever successful run-chase in test cricket. No pressure, then.
Never give up. It’s not over till it’s over
Ben Stokes
And yet, with the weight of expectation bearing down on him, Ben Stokes showed the mental sharpness and determination to – for the second time in the summer of 2019 – heave his team over the line.
Batting at number five, he arrived with the score 141-3. To begin with, the onus was on defence – Stokes only scored two runs from the first 50 balls he faced. But as day four wore on, wickets fell around him and he had to adjust his style.
By the time he was joined by number 11 batsman Jack Leach, there were still 70 runs required, and only one batsman capable of scoring them. Stokes switched the angle of attack, delivering a flurry of one-day shots and pinch-hitting, the best of which was an audacious reverse-sweep for six off the spin bowling of Nathan Lyon.
As in the World Cup final, Stokes’s tactics were immaculate – he kept his batting partner off of the strike as much as possible and took every chance to hit a boundary.
As the winning total grew nearer, the tension grew greater. But with a four through the covers against pace man Pat Cummins, Stokes won the match. The contrast to the start of his innings could not be more stark – his last 84 runs had come from just 67 balls.
But just as Botham and Dilley did in 1981, an all-rounder and a tailender had conspired to take the game away from Australia.
Speaking to Sky Sports’ Ian Ward in the aftermath of it all, Stokes attributed his performance to mental strength: “Never give up. It’s not over till it’s over.”
“I was so in the zone of what I had to do. We had to win this game to stay in the Ashes.”
After 329mins at the crease, facing 219 balls, hitting 11 fours and eight sixes, Ben Stokes had done the seemingly impossible and kept his team in the series.
“I’m not sure that’ll ever happen again,” he said. “[it’s] one of the top two feelings I’ve ever had on a cricket field.”

3. 103 not out vs Gujarat Lions – May 2017

Stokes said the £1.7 million paid for him at auction – one of the highest prices ever paid for an Indian Premier League player – was “life-changing”. But then he had to then earn his money. Although the last two seasons have been disappointing for his high standards, he exploded onto the scene in his debut tournament, with four ‘Player of the Match’ awards that helped launch his Rising Pune Supergiant team into the tournament's playoffs.
But it was his astounding unbeaten century that stopped the competition in their tracks. Not for the runs made or balls faced – impressive as it is to clock 103 in 63. It was the situation when he arrived at the crease: 10-for-3 chasing 162. From there, you don’t win. It isn’t meant to happen. No one told this Durham lad.
Clobbering six sixes along the way, the solo effort was literally match-winning, with a ball to spare for good measure. “An amazing innings,” said his skipper, Australian Steve Smith, who knows a thing or two about playing those. Worth every penny.

4. 258 vs South Africa – Cape Town, January 2016

Ben Stokes' 258 cricket innings

Stokes is clapped off the field after his 258

© Getty Images

A "murderous assault.” Wisden, cricket's bible, said it best when Stokes – to borrow their words again – “battered South Africa into submission” with the quickest Test 250 in the 140-year history of the game, taking just 196 balls to reach that milestone.
What made it all the more ridiculous was again the state of the game when the innings began. England were 167-4 with their first innings in the balance, two wickets falling on that score to bring Stokes’ hurried arrival.
Joined by accomplice Jonny Bairstow, the pair put on 399 together – the biggest ever sixth wicket stand. They were 622-6 by the time Stokes’ damage was done. An innings that included 11 sixes, 30 fours and, at one stage, saw him smash 130 on his own in a session.
Little wonder Wisden put him on the cover of their 2016 Almanack.

5. 120 vs Australia – Perth, December 2013

As Pulp once sang: “I had to start it somewhere, so it started… there.”
It was much like that when Stokes was drafted into the England side for a Test debut during their calamitous 2013-14 tour of Australia. England were whitewashed five-nil in the series – but among those desolate changing rooms, the team's new boy had landed.
With the Ashes slipping away in Perth, and chasing an impossible 504 for victory to keep the series alive, Stokes drove straight and pulled powerfully. In defying the fearsome Mitchell Johnson and co, he registered his maiden Test ton as all fell apart around him.
By doing so, he delivered a taste to the Australians of why he would be the man to help get the urn back into England's possession 18 months later. And probably many more times before he's finished…

6. 101 vs New Zealand – Lord’s, May 2015

In the best tradition of so many English cricket heroes, Stokes was born somewhere else. Christchurch in New Zealand, to be precise. Indeed, his dad played Rugby League for the Kiwis. But it was against his country of origin that Stokes got himself on the Lord’s honour board in predictably scintillating style.
Coming off his career’s most barren patch, having recorded ducks in his previous three games, Stokes couldn’t have turned it around more emphatically in this virtuoso outing, the protagonist in one of the most gripping Tests played this decade.
Carrying a first innings deficit, despite Stokes’ rearguard 92, the hosts had plenty to do when our man walked out. Sure enough, he turned the contest on its head with an 85-ball century, the fastest ever made at the home of cricket.
Then, on a pulsating final day, Stokes’ bowling came to the fore as he picked up the wickets of both New Zealand’s captain and his deputy. Wisden called him “Bothamesque”, while the opposition rued what might have been had Stokes’ parents decided to remain antipodean.

7. 128 vs India – Rajkot, November 2016

Ben Stokes' best innings in cricket, including his 258

Stokes has firmly established himself with England

© Getty Images

A number six needs two clubs in the bag: the ability to dig you out of trouble, and the ability to bat the opposition out of the contest. So far, we’ve talked a lot about Stokes doing the former. But in this innings, he proved he could do the latter just as well.
England had progressed steadily to 281-4 when Stokes came in on the first evening. An excellent foundation, but more to do. By the time he departed, they were 517-9, and only one team could realistically win the Test Match. The 128 he compiled was of a different tempo, taking 235 balls. It was defined by maturity, blunting the two best spinners on the planet across six hours at the crease.
It required a fraction of luck along the way, but only the best keep their nerve and capitalise after getting a second chance. It was proof that Stokes is not only a superb player but a natural leader as well.

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Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes is, quite simply, one of the greatest all-round cricketers the game has ever seen.

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