England all-rounder has now been instrumental in two World Cup finals
After his Player-of-the-Match performance in the 2019 ODI World Cup final, Ben Stokes guided England through a tricky chase to win the 2022 T20 World Cup final against Pakistan. Stokes scored his first T20I fifty to lead England to glory in Melbourne, and former New Zealand captain and current Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming called him a “champion under pressure” who is “forging a career where he is there at key moments.”
“He’s [Stokes] a big presence, he’s a big personality and he’s a big winner,” Fleming said on ESPNcricinfo’s T20 Time Out show. “And that’s pretty key ingredients when you talk about a good to great player.”
“What he is doing is forging a career where he is there at key moments. He has won Test matches on the last day single-handedly, he was there today. He has been in some unbelievable battles and you’d back him most times to win them. So his temperament is so tested, and it comes through every time that you’ve got to say he’s a champion under pressure. And there’s not many that really rise to that occasion or on that occasion as much as he seems to do.
While there were questions over Stokes’ role in this England T20 line-up at the start of the tournament, he ended up playing a crucial innings in a must-win group game against Sri Lanka to qualify for the semi-finals. And in the final England were 32 for 2 when Stokes walked in to bat in the fourth over. Even as he saw Jos Buttler depart two overs later, Stokes formed partnerships with Harry Brook and Moeen Ali to ensure there was no slip-up in the chase of 138. He remained unbeaten on 52 off 49 balls.
“He [Stokes] gets into that position where he is the main man and everyone around him feeds off that,” Fleming said. “You saw at the end what it meant to those other players as they ran out. They were really dependent on him being there and doing that job and he has done it yet again for England.”
Dawid Malan, who usually plays the anchor role for England, missed the semi-final and the final of the World Cup with an injury and former Australia allrounder Tom Moody said that his absence may have ended up helping Stokes’ game.
“I think that what Stokes did today is exactly what Malan has done for this England side for the last 2-3 years,” Moody said. “He has created that real nice balance where he can play that measured innings with the power around him. They’ve got natural power-hitters that are prepared to go after it and back themselves when they are given clear roles. But when they are stacked up with Stokes and Malan at 3 and 4, it nearly cluttered that middle order when they had that depth and power that they had.
“So I think if anything, it’s really unfortunate for Dawid Malan to have the injury, the timing of that injury. But it just created that open space for Ben Stokes to be Ben Stokes the T20 cricketer.”