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Ben Stokes at 100: A look at England captain’s extraordinary career ahead of milestone Test appearance in Rajkot

Ben Stokes is set to become the 16th England player to play 100 Test matches when he takes the field in Rajkot.

When Ben Stokes walks out to lead England in their third Test against India in Rajkot starting on Thursday, he will become the 16th player from the country to play 100 matches in the longest format of the game. The game in Visakhapatnam was Stokes’ 99th and he will become the third player in the current England side to have played 100 Test matches, after former captain Joe Root, who is on 137, and veteran fast bowler James Anderson who will be playing his 185th.

Ben Stokes has been crucial to England’s cause since he made his Test debut in 2013(AP)

Stokes has been integral to the team’s cause in Test cricket since he made his Test debut in Adelaide during the 2013 Ashes in Australia, a forgettable series from England’s perspective. He has scored 6251 runs in 179 Test innings at an average of 36.34 with 13 centuries and 31 half-centuries. Stokes has also taken 197 wickets in the 146 innings that he has bowled at an average of 32.07 and strike rate of 58.2. He has also taken 105 catches and in Test cricket.

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The records that belong to Stokes

Only Jacques Kallis and Garry Sobers have accounted for better all-round stats with regards to batting, bowling and fielding than Stokes. The England captain leads the list for most sixes in the longest format of the game by some distance. He has hit 128 sixes in his career while the second best is England’s current head coach and former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, who hit 107. He is also one of just three players to have hit over 100 sixes in Test cricket, the third being Australia great Adam Gilchrist (100).

A number of records fell Stokes’s way during his mammoth partnership with Jonny Bairstow alone during the Cape Town Test against South Africa in 2016. The pair slammed 399 runs off just 349 balls for the sixth wicket with Stokes scoring 258 in 198 balls and Bairstow remaining unbeaten on 150 off 191. Stokes’ score was the highest by any No.6 batter in the history of Test cricket. It was also the highest partnership ever for the sixth wicket. He got to his double century in 163 balls, which remains the second fastest of all time. He then went on to reach his 250 in 196 balls, the fastest of all time in the format. Stokes also scored 130 runs in the first session of the second day of the Test alone, the most by any batter in a single session of a Test match.

The records that await Stokes

Stokes is three wickets away from becoming the 10th player with over 300 runs and 200 wickets in Test cricket and could also become just the fourth bowler to take five wickets in an innings during his 100th Test. However, that is highly unlikely to happen as Stokes hasn’t bowled in the longest format since June last year. He has been bowling in the nets but it is unlikely that Stokes will steam in during the third Test, having played in this tour thus far as a batter. Frequent injuries have severely hampered Stokes’ contribution with the ball and he is still easing in after a surgery post the 2023 World Cup late last year.

However, Stokes has been as dangerous as ever in the lower middle-order with the bat, particularly when the opposition team reaches England’s tail and he is holding up one end. The 32-year-old can become the 11th player to score a century in his 100th Test, joining a list that is currently populated by Colin Cowdrey, Ricky Ponting, Javed Miandad, Gordon Greenidge, Alec Stewart, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Joe Root and David Warner.

Stokes’ three most memorable matches

As stated earlier, a prime candidate for the Test that Stokes will be most remembered for would be the Cape Town Test against South Africa, although the match ended up being a draw. However, there were two other performances, one with bat and the other with ball, for England among so many other extraordinary efforts which stand out. So while the Cape Town Test is in this list, one can never forget Headingley 2019.

England had been all out for 67 in the third Ashes Test after they sent back Australia for a score of 179. Australia then scored 246 runs in the second Test, leaving England with a target of 359 to chase, which at the time required them to break their record for highest succesful run chase in the longest format. Stokes had taken more than 50 deliveries to get to a double digit score, choosing to block out most of the last session on Day 3 and the first session of Day 4 before slowly switching gears. However, England were reduced to 286/9, by which point Stokes was on 61 off 174. He had No.10 Jack Leach at the other end and from there, Stokes ended up putting one of the most extraordinary displays of big-hitting ever seen in Test cricket. In the next 45 balls that he faced, Stokes smashed 74 runs and led England to victory with one wicket in hand. He put up a last wicket stand of 76 in 62 balls with Leach and the latter scored just one run off 17 balls in it.

The other is the first Test during India’s tour of England at Edgbaston in 2018, which was also Stokes first international since serving a ban for affray charges that were slapped on him after a brawl outside a nightclub. India needed to chase down a target of 194 to win the match, with captain Virat Kohli at his peak and having scored a sensational 149 in the first innings. He ended up taking figures of 4/40, dismissing Kohli for just 51 runs and then cleaning up the tail to confirm what turned out to be the victory that set the tone for the series for England.


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