Ben Stokes, the former member of England’s one-day team, was originally scheduled to play golf this week at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. However, after his retirement, he ended up breaking the all-time record for the highest score in an ODI match, smashing 182 runs against New Zealand. Stokes joked about missing out on the golf tournament, stating that he was “basically playing golf today, so it was okay.”
Stokes had previously mentioned his plans to take time off after the Ashes to treat his left knee and not play in the World Cup. However, it was all a deception, as he knew he would be making a comeback for England’s world title defense in India in October and November. Stokes, known for his cool demeanor and clutch performances, perfectly maintained his poker face when asked about his knee, distracting everyone from his true intentions.
Stokes’ incredible batting performance at the Oval reaffirmed why captain Jos Buttler wants him in the Indian tour. By focusing solely on his batting and not being preoccupied with his bowling, Stokes becomes an even more dangerous prospect. This was only the 10th time in his ODI career that he occupied the number four spot in England’s batting line-up, and his performance made him the second-highest scorer for a batsman with four or fewer runs in men’s ODI history.
Stokes’ clarity of purpose allowed him to make his fastest ODI century since 2017, hitting 15 fours and nine sixes during his innings. England won the match by 181 runs and secured a 2-1 series victory against New Zealand, his native country. There were nods to his memorable performances in the World Cup final and at Lord’s, with moments where luck seemed to favor him. Stokes surpassed England’s previous ODI record of 180, set by Jason Roy in 2018.
Although New Zealand may have mixed feelings about seeing Stokes play against them instead of for them, their coach Gary Stead acknowledged his talent and expressed the hope that he would continue his excellent form in the upcoming World Cup. Stokes acknowledged that it was not easy to make a comeback in the 50-over format, but his thoroughness and performance proved that he was truly back.
For England, having Stokes back means another World Cup where anything is possible.