Mumbai: Steering England to their maiden World Cup triumph and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in the third Ashes Test— England’s Ben Stokes has ascended to become a world sensation due to his recent heroic performances. Stokes has played probably the two best innings of his life in a span of six weeks.
The 28-year-old's recent all-round display has made it inevitable for fans to compare the New-Zealand born right-hander to England legend Ian Botham. Stokes has paved his way into England's list of elite all-rounders, comprising the likes of WG Grace, Ian Botham, Paul Collingwood and Andrew Flintoff.
Stokes’ unbeaten knock of 135 runs at Headingley helped the hosts chase down a record target of 359 in dramatic fashion and level the five-match series at 1-1. His innings kindled memories of Botham's thrilling ton in the 1981 Ashes.
Botham, regarded as England's best all-rounder also hailed Stokes as the 'Special One' and said that all-rounder’s desire to succeed in the longest format of the game was a welcome sign.
"He will play all the T20 leagues but the refreshing thing about it all is he wants to play test cricket and do well in it. That is the ultimate test," Botham further said.
Botham made his international debut in 1977 against Australia and went on to have an extensive and successful England career. At the time he finished at Test level his stats were impressive with 5,200 runs at a 33.54 average and 383 wickets at a 28.40 average.
One of the highlights of Botham's career was his magnificent display in Ashes. The 1981 Ashes kicked off pretty badly with England losing and drawing the first two matches, leading to Botham removing the skipper's hat.
England was at the verge of a defeat in the third Test till Botham walked in to bat. The scoreboard reflected 105-5 when Botham took the guard, indicating about another loss on the cards for England. However, Botham had another plans. He eventually went on to score 149 not out and left England with an unlikely lead which he helped turn into a victory.
Botham's scintillating form continued for the rest of the series, leading to England's Ashes triumph.
Stokes, who has now climbed to career-best Test ranking(13) after his Headlingley's blockbuster innings has awarded him with the epithet of the 'Ashes hero'.
"It changed my life overnight. I think Ben's life will be the same. He will have no private life. He has to get used to that and so do the family," Botham told the Daily Telegraph.
Stokes has amassed 3479 runs in Tests at an average of 35.86, including eight centuries and 18 half-centuries. He has also scalped 135 wickets at an average of 32.22.
The fourth test will kick off at Old Trafford on September 4 where every English fan will be anticipating Stokes to play a vital role in the hosts' Ashes triumph....