From Zero To Hero: Ben Stokes Completes T20 World Cup Redemption


“In tournaments like these you can’t carry baggage with you, that was a little blip on the way, credit to Ireland for turning up and beating us, but the best teams learn from their mistakes and not let it affect them,” said Ben Stokes about England’s early loss to Ireland in the Super 12 stage of the tournament, minutes after guiding his team to its second T20 World Cup title at the storied Melbourne Cricket Ground. But one could very easily think that Stokes might just be talking about himself. After all, second chances don’t come easy, especially after you have been hit for 4 consecutive sixes in the deciding over of a final. Stokes though, had created not just a second but a third chance for himself and delivered in both.

Six years ago on a balmy Kolkata night, Stokes had been reduced to a mockery as Carlos Brathwaite hit 4 gigantic sixes to snatch the T20 World Cup away from England’s jaws. It was a heart-breaking end for Eoin Morgan’s England side, which had turned a corner after their humiliating exit from the group stage of the 2015 ICC World Cup.

It eventually turned out to be a minor blip, just like the loss to Ireland in this campaign, as Morgan’s team went on to become the most formidable white-ball side in the world, turning limited-overs cricket on its head.

The timid, gentlemanly English side, had been taken over by go-getters, who were ready to change the destiny of the team with their all-out attack game plan.

The first opportunity came at home in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, but a disappointing semi-final loss brought an early end to the campaign that had promised a lot.

The relentless pursuit of excellence in the white ball game continued and it all came to a head on the hallowed turf of the Lord’s Cricket Ground in 2019 as England stared at another World Cup final defeat, this time at the hands of a well-oiled New Zealand side.

Ben Stokes had come a long way from that disappointing night in Kolkata and he held his nerves, with a touch of luck, to tie the final as England went on to win the 2019 World Cup by the slenderest of margins of boundary count, after the Super Over had also ended in a tie.

The victory was well deserved but it still had its questions about it and the naysayers weren’t ready to acknowledge this team as the best yet.

A semi-final loss to New Zealand followed in the rescheduled 2021 T20 World Cup and soon after, Morgan brought the curtains down on his career.

Jos Buttler was handed the limited overs reins as Stokes decided to focus on Test cricket and retired from ODIs. Stokes’ elevation to Test captaincy brought about an immediate change in England’s fortunes as they went from being laggards to a match-winning machine in 2022.

The focus shifted to T20s with the World Cup in Australia and England went into the championship on the back of bilateral series wins over Pakistan and Australia.

Ireland happened in the Super 12 stage but England decided to not carry the baggage and booked their knockouts spot with some handsome wins.

India were blown away by Buttler and Hales’ brilliance and a resurgent Pakistan awaited in the final.

With MCG’s big boundaries and Pakistan’s indomitable pace attack, England knew even 138 was an imposing target and it turned out to be just that.

Stokes had earned his second chance with a lot of hard work, grit and above all – ‘a never say die’ spirit that had brought him back from the worst, and he wasn’t going to let this chance go waste.

He pushed, nudged, cut and defended like a battle-hardened general that he had become to stop the Pakistani pace barrage.

But with the equation moving in Pakistan’s favour late in the chase, even Stokes needed a stroke of luck and it came when Shaheen Shah Afridi failed to complete his third over due to injury.


Stokes took the part-time off-spin of Iftikhar Ahmed apart and from then on it was a mere formality.

Stokes had delivered a second ICC trophy for England, and he now just needs to reclaim the Ashes on Australian soil to become a bona fide English legend for posterity.

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