Ashes 2019: The sky is the limit for indomitable Ben Stokes

Given Ben Stokes' heavy workload, he has to stay fit. His fierce motivation will be his biggest ally.

Stokes' tally of wickets is well distributed — he has 66 wickets at home and 64 away — and Stokes has picked a creditable 29 wickets in 13 Tests in the sub-continent and the UAE.   -  getty images

How far can the iridescent Ben Stokes travel? He has this astonishing will and belief to back his compelling skillset and physical strength. And he is only 28.

His game is about focus, intensity, and staying strong under pressure.

As we saw in that nerve-jangling World Cup final and the pulse-pounding Leeds Test, he is often the last man standing and he delivers in the mayhem.

Sound fundamentals

Character he has in plenty. His batting is based on sound fundamentals, whether you talk of footwork, weight distribution, or shot selection.

The southpaw packs enormous power with his bat-speed that follows a high backlift. He also gets solidly behind line in defence, picks the length early.

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If you compare him with great fast-bowling allrounders, only the legendary Garry Sobers and the indomitable Jacques Kallis have done better than Stokes with the bat till this point — 55 Tests.

Stokes is more of a batting allrounder although his bowling can be a serious threat.

Well distributed

If you compare him with great fast-bowling allrounders, only the legendary Garry Sobers and the indomitable Jacques Kallis have done better than Stokes with the bat till this point — 55 Tests.   -  getty images

 

His tally of wickets is well distributed — he has 66 wickets at home and 64 away — and Stokes has picked a creditable 29 wickets in 13 Tests in the sub-continent and the UAE.

That he has bowled under the shadow of an all-time great pace pair of James Anderson and Stuart Broad has cut into his tally of wickets.

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But give him responsibility and he revels. When an injured Jofra Archer went off the field at Leeds, a fired-up Stokes bowled in the high 80s (miles), got his deliveries to seam around, bowled toe-crushers and hit the batsmen on the gloves.

He sends down a heavy ball, can bowl long spells and his reverse swing can hurt line-ups.

And Stokes is an exceptional, acrobatic fielder who can conjure moments of pure magic.

Significant all-rounders after 55 Tests:

Player   Runs+wkts

Sobers   4917+119

Miller   2958+170

Imran    2099+254

Kapil    2257+215

Botham   3008+251

Hadlee   2024+259

Kallis   3612+105

Stokes   3479+135

Balanced record

Talk about allrounders and the gifted Sobers was the greatest of them all, while Ian Botham, with his pacey two-way swing and astonishing hitting, had a very balanced record with the bat and the ball after 55 Tests.

The tireless and influential Kapil Dev toiled in the difficult sub-continental conditions, could swing the ball away and get it to nip back and was one of the cleanest natural strikers of the ball.

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The mercurial Imran Khan, the quickest bowler among the allrounders, destroyed line-ups with his speed and swing. Imran was a bowling allrounder until he reinvented himself as a technically sound batsman in the later stages of his career.

Sultan of swing, seam

Richard Hadlee was simply the sultan of swing and seam. And he had his moments with the willow. The indomitable Jacques Kallis was a batting allrounder and the best batsman in the mix, save Sobers.

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And Stokes’ predecessor in the list of game-changing English allrounders, Andrew Flintoff, of those scorching yorkers, velocity, awkward lift and lusty blows, finished with 3845 runs and 226 wickets in 79 Tests.

Where will Stokes end up in the pantheon of allrounders?

Given his heavy workload, he has to stay fit. His fierce motivation will be his biggest ally.