de Stokes’ decision to return to England’s 50-over side was made with a goal in mind that can only be achieved at the World Cup final in Ahmedabad on November 19.
But if the man whose name now appears in English cricket history books almost as regularly as the words “bat” and “ball” insists on writing another entry in the meantime, who are we to argue?
Here at the Oval, Stokes scored an impressive 182 innings from just 124 balls, not only his highest ODI score but also the highest ever by an Englishman, as Jos Buttler’s side beat New Zealand by 181 runs to take a 2-1 lead .
With a hard-hitting target of 369, three early wickets from Chris Woakes in a fantastic new-ball spell ensured the tourists were never seriously in contention. Glenn Phillips’ 72 only delayed the inevitable as England, for the first time in a short ODI summer, produced the kind of performance that will have the likes of India and Australia excited three weeks before the World Cup begins.
Stokes came to the crease for the second successive time in a Trent Boult-inspired clash against England after the seamer dismissed first Jonny Bairstow and then Joe Root in his second over, leaving the hosts trailing 13-2. While England allowed the rot to deepen even further in Southampton on Sunday, eventually being rescued by Liam Livingstone and the underclassmen, they took no step backwards here, with Stokes and Dawid Malan forming a masterful partnership of 199 before the opener fell four runs short of what a fifth ODI century would have been.
Although he was denied this milestone as the third of five victims of the extraordinary Boult, it was a fine day for Malan, who was under pressure for his World Cup place in this four-game series, but did not play until the final on Friday Lord’s coming up, safe now.
The 36-year-old hit a half-century in the series opener in Cardiff last week and after skipping the trip to Southampton for the birth of his second child, he immediately returned here to take advantage of Jason Roy’s continued absence from the Surrey man suffered another back spasm this morning and now has no time to prove his fitness before the plane takes off for India. To add insult to injury, it was Roy’s record innings of 180 against Australia in 2018 that was dismissed by Stokes.
At the time of Malan’s dismissal, a good New Zealand report found a leg-side feather toss, Stokes had already scored his fastest ODI hundred, accelerating from 13 off 19 at the end of the powerplay to three figures just 57 balls later to reach. Curiously, the all-rounder had failed to take off after each of his three previous ODI tons and never got as far as topping 102, but six years after the last of those, and with time not an object, he was not in a lavish mood .
Along with Buttler, whose cameo of 38 from 24 was a good result for New Zealand in the circumstances, the attack continued, with the touring bowlers hesitantly lining up to take their medicine as every option at the front other than Boult more than one run-A ball covered.
As always with Stokes, the whole show was tinged with a sense of danger that now inheres in watching England’s defining player hobble around on one leg, running all but the most urgent attempt for a deuce around a cruise ship’s turning circle Don’t put unnecessary strain on an injured knee over the long term. Fortunately, a lot of ground was saved by the nine maximums among his 24 boundaries, with the ball being slammed so brutally that those privileged to sit in the front row were pretty much the safest on the ground too.
With the last of them, Stokes once again became the record breaker, achieving his final result by throwing Ben Lister over his head before shortly afterwards falling with his sword on the same thrower, who was caught in the depths and trying to accelerate towards the first his country’s one-day double hundred.
It is true that England might have been a little more ruthless in burying New Zealand from this point onwards, with Stokes’ dismissal triggering a collapse that resulted in the final five wickets falling for just 20 runs than a score over 400 might well have been seemed within reach. Despite 11 unused deliveries, a total of 368 was England’s highest ODI score against a Test country since the World Cup four years ago.
For those hoping to dethrone the champions this fall, this must make ominous reading.
https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/cricket/england-new-zealand-odi-ben-stokes-record-b1106872.html England send a warning to Cricket World Cup rivals as Ben Stokes breaks ODI record