Ben Stokes has been one of the best players for the English Test team over recent years. He is a true match-winner with both bat and ball in his hand. He last played a Test match on 6th March which was in India.
Since Ben Stokes took an indefinite break from cricket, England have struggled with their batting and their middle order has looked the weakest seen in the past few years. England have also lost six out of the 12 matches in 2021 and for most of the losses, a key reason was poor batting display – especially from the middle order. The other English all-rounders also didn’t seem as effective as Ben Stokes. In each of the three facets of the game, England has suffered, and the loss of a player like Ben Stokes is painful.
Ben Stokes- one of the greatest batting all-rounders
Ben Stokes is as good as two players in one soul. He can bat lower down the order and smash big hundreds and also provide with crucial breakthroughs. A player of his caliber can single-handedly win a Test match for his side with his heroics from both bat and ball. In Test matches, he comes at number 5 or 6 and he can change the course of the match with his hard-hitting skills and with the ability to bat for long hours. He is a wicket-taker with the ball who can bowl at an average speed of 140 km/hr. To add to these skills, he is also a great slip fielder and can fill in the gaps England are missing with catches being dropped at the slips cordon. His statistics prove for himself.
One can undoubtedly say that Benjamin Andrew Stokes is a complete batting all-rounder as he has scored 4631 runs at an average of 37.04 which is excellent for an all-rounder and he also has picked up 163 wickets at an average of 31.38. He also has 24 fifties and 10 centuries to his name. In addition to the likes of Botham, Kallis, Kapil Dev, etc., Ben Stokes can be considered one of the greatest all-rounders in this format of the game.
England’s vulnerable middle order without Ben Stokes
England’s batting has been their biggest concern in the past year, but to be precise their middle-order batsmen are the ones to be blamed. England’s middle-order has been inconsistent for the past 12 months or more and is creating troubles for the team’s success. Except for Joe Root who has been pilling the maximum amount of runs that is more than 30% of the runs, the middle order has looked pale and has disappointed everyone.
Ben Stokes has provided stability in this middle order over the years and since he took an indefinite break from cricket, the English middle order started to collapse. As we can see no batsmen have scored a century in the past 12 months and they are inconsistent. None of the batsmen have an average of 30 or above. All of them average between 19 to 28 which is a disgrace for a top side like England. The experienced batters like Bairstow and Buttler have also looked awfully out of form with none of them scoring big and consistently for the team. Ben Stokes can fill these gaps as well as play consistently, which improves the team’s chances of winning.
Ben Stokes vs other English all-rounders
As good as Ben Stokes is with the bat in his hand, he is more than a capable pace bowler who can bowl long spells and can provide breakthroughs whenever his captains ask for. Other English all-rounders do not possess the qualities like Stokes as none of them is as good as Stokes is with the bat. There might be all-rounders who are better with the bowl-like Woakes or Robinson but they do not bat as well as Stokes.
Woakes, Curran and Moeen Ali have had batting averages half that of Stokes in the last two years. Stokes also has the second-best bowling average and he is also the second-highest wicket-taker after Woakes among the English all-rounders. Stokes also has the ability to play with the tail-enders, who can provide valuable runs lower down the order. Stokes provides the perfect balance a captain wishes in his playing XI, unlike other all-rounders.
England without Stokes is undoubtedly weaker. The absence of Stokes has haunted the English team over the past few months. Their batting line-up looks unguarded and has failed miserably. Stokes provides consistency that no other batsmen except Joe Root have been able to do. Stokes also comes in as the 4th seam bowling option in English or Australian conditions and provides solidity to the squad. If Stokes is missing from the playing XI, then a lot of pressure comes on the shoulders of Joe Root when it comes to scoring runs consistently and on Anderson and Broad when it comes to picking up the chunk of the wickets.
Ben Stokes is like an Ace card for the captain and he is also one of the most important units of this English lower order as he has proved over the years with both bat and ball.