“what an innings, what a player…”
It’s been a long time since a singular sportsman captivated the nation like Stokes did this summer; an effort to rival the country’s infatuation with Beckham following his Greece free-kick and stellar 2002 World Cup performances. With football however, a myriad of English people in general love football regardless – it’s the incorporation of a new generation of cricket fans that Ben Stokes miraculously achieved.
Stokes has arguably single handedly revitalised cricket for the younger generation, at a time when the sport was veering towards a feeling of all formats dwindling away.
If David Fincher or Martin Scorsese wrote a film script about what may happen at a cricket World Cup, they would never have been outrageous enough to produce scenes close to the real events. If either directors were given a script of what actually happened against New Zealand, they would’ve dismissed it, saying it was too unrealistic.
The simplicity of discussing Stokes’ cricketing brilliance could go on forever, whereas he’s more than that. England would not have won their first ever cricket World Cup if it wasn’t for Stokes, that’s obvious and re-watching it will forever be amazing. Shortly after that; he produced the best test match innings performance I’ve ever witnessed, in sporting terms he soared far higher above being phenomenal – implicitly a national hero.
After those indescribable consummations, you’ll still hear some people say – “he’s just a thug though, isn’t he?”
First and foremost all evidence points to Stokes ‘assaulting’ the guy in Bristol because the guy was being homophobic, fair play. If that’s true or not is irrelevant; it’s more so how Stokes lost the vice-captaincy whilst also being villainised in the media, yet still bounced back.
Did he sulk and protest his innocence? No. Did he become upset and grieve over losing his prestigious role for England? No. Did his ego overrule his road to redemption? Definitely not.
Regardless of his innocence, he accepted the consequences. He worked harder than anybody else in that England team following his press witch-hunt, if you watch any interview with his England teammates, they all say Stokes works the hardest in practically everything. If he’s in the nets, practising bowling, in the gym or working on his fitness – he’s the one who pushes himself more than the rest. Darren Gough of talkSPORT stated how impressed he was with Stokes’ work rate off the field, whilst also complimenting how humble he is as a person.
Alongside his redemption; whilst playing, Stokes displays an abundance of passion for his country, reportedly also being a huge positive influence in the dressing room. It’s easy to forget that he was not even born in England, he’s technically a Kiwi but he radiates far more English pride and loyalty than your standard native. In an era of political turmoil; Stokes alongside many of his teammates, represents a true English ideology. To be truly English it doesn’t matter if you were born here or not; it’s standing, playing and illustrating a loud and proud persona when it comes to playing for your country.
We won the World Cup with an Irishman as captain alongside our best bowler who was born in Barbados, the multiculturalism that makes England so great – a trait Stokes personifies.
Going from the media’s favourite villain to being a national hero is enough in itself to win the award. Further to that though he’s brought a huge audience back to cricket; given us the best summer of cricket ever yet still staying humble throughout it all. Conclusively though he amazingly has become an inspiration to anybody who has ever thought they aren’t good enough to do something or cannot achieve redemption. He could win the award for his cricketing heroics alone, but he’s so much more than that overall.
A sporting hero.
A positive inspiration.
A true role model nowadays, built on previous mistakes.
The only true sports personality of the year.