Ben Stokes Stokes hit  the fastest 250 in Test history, taking just 198 deliveries against South Africa © Getty Images
Ben Stokes hit the fastest 250 in Test history, in just 198 balls against South Africa © Getty Images

On December 5, 2013 – a tall, energetic cricketer from Durham, made his debut for England against Australia in the Ashes series 2013-14. It was the second match of the series and was being played at Adelaide in Australia. An ambidextrous all-rounder, Stokes  can bat left handed and bowl with right handed, couldn’t make a mark in his very first Test for England. He scored just 29 runs in the debut Test and took 2 wickets. Centuries from Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin in the first innings had taken the game away from England but what made matters worse for the visitors was Mitchell Johnson’s 7 wickets that completely blew the visiting team away. Stokes couldn’t shine, so he had to wait for another chance. And this time, he grabbed it. ALSO READ: Ben Stokes hits maiden Test ton under pressure on Day 5 of 3rd Ashes 2013-14 Test

A well made hundred in a struggle to save the Test and the Ashes for England, went in a losing cause. England were beaten comprehensively by 5-0, but Stokes had earned his share of respect, while taking his first steps in the longer format. He had shown one side of his talent. His batting at the WACA was a treat to the eyes. The other half — his bowling, had been decent. In the final Test of the Ashes 2013-14 though, Stokes delivered. He ripped through the Australian batting line-up, in their first innings, finishing with 6 for 99. He made the batsman drive, and almost ended up taking a hattrick.

Stokes has registered his place in the Test side ever since. With a batting average of 33.21, and bowling average of 37.84, Stokes has performed reasonably well for England. He is capable of doing even better though. As an all-rounder he adds depth to the batting line-up and gives captain Alastair Cook a seaming option. On pitches which offer swing for the fast bowlers, Stokes has done exceedingly well and risen above expectations of his captain. In spite of having fast bowlers like James Anderson and Stuart Broad in his team, who can run through a side completely, Stokes has proved that he has a knack of taking wickets. ALSO READ: Ben Stokes speaks about horror of his final over in T20 World Cup 2016

A number of important half-centuries lower-down the order over the last few years, have helped in cementing his place in the team. Although, something that England cricket fans and Stokes himself will always cherish would be the Englishman’s double century against South Africa at Cape Town in early 2016. Stokes broke a number of records then. Most important being that of the highest score by a No.6 batsman.

A clean hitter of the cricket ball and an excellent stroke-player, Stokes had put on a massive partnership with Jonny Bairstow to win the Man of the match as well.

Although he might not ever escape the horrors of the final over that he bowled in the T20 World Cup Final against West Indies, as he turns 25, Stokes has a lot to look forward to, in the 5-Day version of the game. With him in the squad, England can rest assured that he will certainly contribute.

(Karan Dewan, a reporter with CricketCountry, loves following and playing sports. He is a Team India fan and loves winning. Follow him on his twitter handle @karan13dewan)