Ben Stokes: more to come from England cricket superstar

How the records tumbled in Newlands as young England batsman put South Africa to the sword

Ben Stokes
England cricketer Ben Stokes
(Image credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images)

As South Africa fought back in the second Test against England the talk was still of Ben Stokes and his record-breaking onslaught during England's first innings on Sunday, which has been hailed as one of the most destructive displays of batting ever produced.

The all-rounder pulverised South Africa's bowlers as he plundered 258 runs from 198 balls at Newlands and put on 399 for the sixth wicket with fellow centurion Jonny Bairstow.

Records tumbled as Stokes:

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  • Hit the fastest double century for England, reaching the landmark in 163 balls, 57 fewer than Ian Botham
  • [blob] Recorded the second-fasted double century in Test history, after Nathan Astle's 153-ball effort in 2002
  • Scored 130 runs before lunch on day two - the most by any batsman before lunch in a Test
  • Beat Virender Sehwag's record of 207 balls for the fastest-ever Test 250
  • Hit the most sixes (11) by an England batsman in an innings
  • Made the best-ever score by a Test number six, eclipsing Doug Walters' 250 for Australia against New Zealand in 1977
  • Set a Test record sixth-wicket partnership with Bairstow of 399

Tributes to the New Zealand-born player have been flooding in.

"Under the shadow of Table Mountain there was butchery, pure and simple. The slaughterhouse was Cape Town — the green grass splattered red with the blood of South Africa's bowlers, spilt by Ben Stokes with brutal and brilliant batting that pounded them into submission," says Michael Atherton in The Times.

"This was Test cricket on amphetamines, perfected by an all-rounder destined to become one of the greats of English cricket."

Those who were there will never forget what they witnessed, says George Dobell of Cricinfo. "They may struggle to summon the words to do justice to the brutality they witnessed; the acceleration of the innings; the power of the boundaries," he says. "And, even if they do, those listening will think they are exaggerating."

It had to be seen to be believed, he adds – "statistics cannot convey the magnificence of this innings".

But it had been coming, says Dobell. "To see Stokes bat in the nets, or in the warm-up matches at the start of this tour, was to see a beast straining at its leash... This one won't be the last or the best."

Former England all-rounder Ian Botham agrees. "It was magnificent, one of the best examples of Test cricket I've seen in a long time," he said on Sky Sports. "Stokes is box office. We knew he'd got it, and this is the tip of the iceberg. He'll get it wrong once in a while but he is a guy that wins matches, and they don't come along very often."

His former team-mate Bob Willis told Sky that the innings was on a par with Botham's heroics in 1981.

This extraordinary innings was "the culmination of a year of coming of age for an all-rounder who just 12 months ago was left out of England's World Cup squad", says Nick Hoult of the Daily Telegraph.

He rediscovered his edge playing Twenty20 cricket in Australia and he was then handed a key role in England's new-look set up by interim coach Paul Farbrace in the summer. Picking Stokes at six in the batting order was an "inspired decision for which English cricket will be grateful for many years", claims Hoult.

"This innings was an opportunity for the statisticians to get lost in a world of quickest-this and fastest-that. But one thing is for sure. The man at the centre of it all yesterday will have had no idea, nor cared, about the landmarks he clocked up.

"Stokes has no interest in the history of cricket. He lives in the here and now. He approaches the game with an innocent joy of wanting to hit sixes."

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