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England’s Ben Stokes: Will not say I redeemed myself

'I’m an athlete and a cricketer, and it’s what we are paid to do, to win trophies'

By Agencies in London
  • Published 18.07.19, 3:01 AM
  • Updated 18.07.19, 3:01 AM
  • 3 mins read
Ben Stokes A file picture

Ben Stokes admitted memories of the off-field incident that threatened his career brought him to tears after England’s historic World Cup triumph.

Stokes was found not guilty of affray following a street brawl during a night out in Bristol in 2017. The all-rounder was banned and fined by the England and Wales Cricket Board after accepting a charge of bringing the game into disrepute.

Stokes was also stripped of the Test vice-captaincy and missed the Ashes tour, but he worked his way back from that chastening incident to enjoy a key role in England’s first-ever World Cup crown.

After some impressive displays on the road to the final, Stokes cemented his place as an English cricket icon by scoring 84 not out and then starring in the Super Over that eventually led to Sunday’s thrilling final win over New Zealand at Lord’s.

“I won’t look back and say I redeemed myself or anything like that. I’m an athlete and a cricketer, and it’s what we are paid to do, to win trophies,” Stokes told ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Wednesday.

“It was coming back from all of that. It was tough. Getting back into cricket obviously massively helped straight after that.

“It was a stressful time for me, my wife, my family back home.

“I had amazing people around me, my team-mates, friends, family. They have to take a lot of credit for helping me to get through that.”

Stokes wept tears of joy on the Lord’s pitch immediately after England won the World Cup and he revealed thoughts of his past had come flooding back.

“I got emotional there, at the end, and that was probably a culmination of lots of things — happiness that we won it and subconsciously thinking and remembering back to what I went through,” he said.

Despite the team’s euphoric celebrations following the World Cup victory, Stokes insisted the team must start preparing for the Ashes series against old rivals Australia.

“We’ve achieved half of what we wanted to do, which is winning the World Cup,” Stokes said.

“Everyone involved in the Test team as well as the one-day team have sort of had to get their heads around the fact that we have an Ashes series coming up and we still have a serious amount of work to do.”

Recalling that unforgettable final over of the final, Stokes said: "All I could think about was Bangladesh in the (2016) World T20 when they were in a similar position (versus India) and they hit the ball straight to the fielder.

"So, I knew if I got one run, we at least got to a Super Over and if I put it to the left or right of the fielder, then we should be able to come back for two. But unfortunately, I hit it straight to the fielder.

"I was annoyed at myself. I was angry. I thought I'd thrown it away, but when I went upstairs, I had to give myself five minutes because Morgs (Eoin Morgan) wanted me to go back out and do the Super Over.

"I said that we should send Jos (Buttler) and Jason (Roy) out, but Morgs said we needed a left-right combination because it was a small boundary."

Stokes’s Test team-mate James Anderson, meanwhile, claimed the all-rounder had asked umpires to take away the four overthrows that proved decisive during England’s final win over New Zealand.

If Stokes had his way, the match might not have been a tie and gone to a Super Over, where both teams scored 15 runs and England eventually won the World Cup on boundary count.

Anderson said that Stokes, who apologised the moment the ball ricocheted to the boundary — after a deflection off his bat — by raising his hands, had appealed to the umpires to overturn their decision.

“The etiquette in cricket is if the ball is thrown at the stumps and it hits you and goes into a gap in the field, you don’t run.

“But if it goes to the boundary, it’s four as per the rules and you can’t do anything about it,” Anderson told the BBC.

“I think, talking to Michael Vaughan who saw him after the game, Ben actually went to the umpires and said, ‘Can you take that four runs off? We don’t want it’. But it’s in the rules and that’s the way it is,” added Anderson.

“It has been talked about for a while among the players, potentially that being a dead ball if it does hit the batsman and veer off somewhere.”