MELBOURNE: Ben Stokes can certainly go on to become England’s greatest ever cricketer as the star all-rounder “stands up in the biggest moments” like he did on Sunday, said skipper Jos Buttler said after the team’s T20 World Cup triumph.
On Sunday, Stokes struggled against Pakistani pacers initially but took his team past the line with a responsible 52 not out to help his team win its second T20 World Cup title. So, is he on his way to become England’s greatest ever cricketer?
“Yeah, he can be in the conversation for sure,” said Buttler after the famous win over Pakistan at the MCG.
“He (Stokes) always stands up in the biggest moments. He is a man who can take a lot of pressure on his shoulders and perform, and yeah, with him in the middle you know you have got a good chance. “Yeah, just so proud of him, pleased for him that he’s stood up and done it again,” Buttler said with a sense of gratitude.
The skipper said his premier player just knows how to win big games. “Yeah, no surprise. He is a true match winner, and he has been there in those scenarios time and time again. He just has a lot of know-how for how to do that.”
What stood out for Buttler was the fact that despite not being at his fluent best, Stokes never gave up the fight against a quality Pakistan bowling line-up.
“I think it certainly wasn’t his most fluent innings or probably didn’t time the ball as well as he can, but you knew he was never going to go down without a fight and stand up and be there at the end.
“We were immensely lucky to have him, and he’s one of the great players of English cricket,” said the skipper.
Babar rues Shaheen’s untimely injury
Pakistan could have seen a different result if pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi had not got injured, skipper Babar Azam said after his team lost to England.
Afridi had injured his knee while catching Harry Brooks. He was brought into the attack in the 16th over but he could bowl only one ball and Iftikhar Ahmed had to complete that over. It badly affected the bowling balance.
“Maybe if Shaheen could have bowled that over, things would have been different. And since there were two left-handers (Stokes and Moeen Ali), I thought of bowling an off-spinner,” Babar reasoned.
Pakistan’s middle-order didn’t perform to its potential and it paid the price for scoring only 137 for 8, which was at least 20 runs short of a par score at the MCG.
However, the skipper thought otherwise. “I wouldn’t blame the middle-order for our defeat. We win and lose as a team. After we were 85 (84) in 11 overs, we should have at least scored 150. But that is the beauty of cricket. Everyday isn’t the same,” the Pakistan skipper said.
The skipper lauded his teammates for their stupendous show at the back-end of the tournament.
“Yes, it hurts to lose a final but the manner in which we played our last four games (including final), the boys deserve credit,” said Babar.