England’s 113 run win at Emirates Old Trafford was made possible by Ben Stokes’ superlative effort with bat and ball. On the final day, Ben’s phenomenal performance gave the Three Lions a crucial, series levelling, victory.
Of course, cricket is a team game. The defeat of West Indies cannot be attributed to Ben alone. It also required a patient knock from Dom Sibley and two destructive bursts of bowling from Stuart Broad.
England resumed on 37-2 and quick runs were vital. The day began in a whirlwind of shots from Ben, assisted by captain Joe Root (22). Together, they added 50 in 43 balls. After Joe was run out, Ben continued hitting and then hitting some more. Ben’s 50 (2 fours, 2 sixes) came off just 36 balls, ensuring the England score kept moving on at pace.
When England declared on 129-3 off 19 overs Ben was still there on 78no (4 fours, 3 sixes) off 57 balls. This was a sprint after Ben’ cautious 176 in the first innings. These two contrasting innings, each empathetic to the precise motion of the match, tells us we are watching a master at the height of his craft.
West Indies needing 312 to win off 85 overs were in trouble at lunch on 25-3. For the second time in the Test, Stuart Broad used the conditions to examine the West Indies batters. This time, he set about the top order, taking 3 crucial wickets.
During the afternoon session the Windies had a glimmer of hope when Sharmarh Brooks (62) and Jermaine Blackwood (55) built a valuable partnership.
It was not to last, Ben claiming the first of two wickets when Backwood was caught behind by a diving Josh Buttler.
As the Test entered its final hour, the last West Indies batter, Kemar Roach, was dismissed with the score on 198, giving England a 113 run win.
Given his contribution to the England cause, there was little surprise when Ben was named Player of the Match.
The third and final Test starts on Friday 24 July, again at Emirates Old Trafford.
(PhoenixMedia Image Created from a Photo by William West/AFP via Getty Images)