He does not look convinced as all the strength and the beauty of the summer has long since drained away.
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Ben Stokes helped England win the Cricket World Cup amid wild drama and then produced the most extraordinary comeback win in the history of the Ashes at Headingley six weeks later.
Within a year Ben had been cleared of affray in Bristol’s crown court after an altercation outside a nightclub in September 2017 cost him the England vice-captaincy.
The place on the last Ashes tour and threatened his freedom and career.
He shrugs and smiles in a way that shows that his pride is still streaked with hurt.
“I do not see it like that at all. I see it as me going out and trying to do as well as I possibly can to help England win games.”
He relaxes a little and unfolds his arms when I tell him about a discussion, I had with Alastair Cook, his close friend, and former England captain. Cook, who rarely makes any offensive claims, stressed that Stokes was the most selfless teammate he had played alongside. Ben Stoke also ready for England Vs South Africa upcoming series.
I think when you know what might happen, before pausing as memories of Bristol return. “Obviously there were points throughout that whole thing when we were not sure what was going to happen.”
There might be a point where you are not good enough anymore, or you go through a bad run of form. If something happened in the game which affected the result and it was down to my fitness or attention? That’s what I’m trying to avoid.”
The World Cup final and Headingley were dreadfully tense. Stokes showed surprisingly varied skills in two different formats – but his obligation was even more remarkable than his imperious batting. Grit and desire, those very human feelings, were evident in almost every shot Stokes played.
They were such authentic innings, rather than storybook marvels, because it did not look as if Stokes enjoyed the vicious intensity with so much depending on him.
You cannot enjoy it until it is over. The World Cup final and Headingley would’ve been soul-destroying if we had not won them. It would’ve been a dagger in the heart regardless of what I did. I could have walked off having ‘84’ runs in the final. Fans would’ve said: Oh, great knock, but I wouldn’t have cared.
At Headingley, if I’d got out for 120, people would’ve again said: ‘Unbelievable effort.’ But it wouldn’t have mattered if we’d lost.
Fans have asked me which means more the final. It’s like choosing between two threes and a six. You can’t. The only difference is that after the Cricket World Cup there was something to show for the efforts.
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