An explosive allrounder who provides passionate, energetic displays whether with the bat, ball or in the field, Ben Stokes was born in Christchurch to international Rugby League player Ged Stokes.
But while he was born on the east coast of New Zealand, it was for a club in the north of England where Stokes made his first cricketing impact, dismissing Surrey’s Mark Ramprakash with his third legal delivery on his Durham one-day debut in 2009, while also registering a maiden half-century on his first-class debut for the county.
Stokes was also making his name known on the international stage after recording a century against India at the Under 19 World Cup that very year, but it wasn’t until 2011 against Ireland and the West Indies respectively that he got his ODI and T20I bow.
A Test match debut came a couple of years later in the baptism of fire of an Ashes series Down Under, and despite England’s collective failure in the series, Stokes demonstrated his gusto with a fine maiden century at Perth.
But with the ardent desire within the all-rounder in all facets of the game occasionally brings ill-discipline and a failure to control emotions, and while the former saw him sent home from an England Lions tour of Australia in 2013, the latter saw him miss out on the 2014 World T20 after suffering a broken wrist by punching a dressing room locker in frustration about a dismissal.
That was just the start of a difficult year, as he was then dropped from the Test team after three consecutive ducks against India, and then from the ODI squad, which cost him his place at the 2015 World Cup.
However, an integral part of a new-look ODI side now sat no.1 in the rankings, Stokes returned in some style in all formats, the highlight of which was in a Test match in Cape Town where he made a sensational 258 from 198 balls against South Africa, the fastest double-hundred by an Englishman.
But there was more turmoil on the horizon, first in 2016 when he conceded 19 runs in the final over of the T20 World Cup final as West Indies claimed the trophy, before becoming embroiled in a fight outside a Bristol night club in September 2017 for which he was later cleared of affray.
Now with all that behind him, Stokes will need to bounce back as he did in 2015 and provide the trigger for a real challenge from England for a maiden World Cup triumph.
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