Ben Stokes: 18 lesser-known facts about the New Zealand-born England cricketer

Born June 4, 1991, Benjamin Andrew Stokes is a cricketer who represents England in cricket at  international level. Since the retirement of Andrew Flintoff one of England’s best all rounder, Stokes has been an able replacement in the English side to fill the void after the former quite game. Stokes is known to be a decent pacer and pretty hard hitting batsman who comes a bit lower down the order. On his 25th birthday, Abhishek Kumar digs out 18 interesting things to know about him.

1.  New Zealand born: He was born and raised in Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand and remained there till the age of 12. Later, his father — Gerard Stokes moved to northern England in 2003.

2.  Sporting background: His father was a renowned former rugby player and coach of New Zealand but after Stokes’ 12th birthday, as he was appointed as head coach of Workington Town rugby league club and moved to northern England. Stokes has participated in a variety of  sports because of his sporting linage as revealed in an interesting story by himself, “Ever since I was young I have played all sorts of sport, mainly cricket and rugby league. My mum was into her sport, too, and she was more of a cricketer than my dad but he won’t like to hear that,” reported by DailyMail.co.uk.

3.  Why Stokes choose cricket: Stokes was a decent rugby player till the age of 14 but further took to cricket and also revealed the actual reason behind choosing this sport. I was about 14 when I had to choose and at the time I was enjoying my cricket more. “I remember playing a rugby league game at full back and I wasn’t too bothered about people getting past me and scoring so I knew my heart wasn’t in that game anymore,” said Stokes to  DailyMail.co.uk.

4.  Had a mystery benefactor: As reported by BBC.co.uk, at the age of 13, Stokes was a raw talent according to his father Gerard but they did not have enough money at that time as he had lost his job. But then came someone who secretly spotted Stokes’ potential and offered to play for his coaching. “I’d lost my job and hadn’t worked for a year, This bloke came and offered to pay for Ben’s coaching and a few other bits and pieces, knowing we weren’t really in a position to do so.”

According to a report in Telegraph.co.uk, John Gibson who coaches youngsters at Cockermouth Cricket Club in Cumbria said that the identity is of the secret benefactor is only known to Stokes and his wife Clare Ratcliffe.

5.  Stokes wears bra: Logically, it’s an sporting garment which holds a GPS tracker in the back. And whatever he says, it looks like a bra and looks good in him too. Further, Stokes clarified this garment by tweeting.

6.  Injured his finger after punching the locker in anger:  In the third Twenty20 International (T20I) match against West Indies at Kensington on March 13, 2014, Stokes got out on duck in his first delivery. He was so frustrated that he punched the locker in dressing room, which led to a fracture in his hand thus his exclusion from ICC World T20 2014. Further, Stokes regretted of punching the locker and said, “I’m very passionate about what I do and get quite emotional when things don’t go well but on that occasion, it came out in a way that I regret,” reported by Independent.co.uk.

Stokes also assured that he won’t be doing such mischief again. “I never want to stop it on the field, I definitely don’t want to lose that edge to my game. But I just hope never again to show that kind of emotion off the field that results in an injury.”

7.  Not the first incident of facing anger issue for Stokes: This was the not the first time when Stokes  had anger issues and spoke about one of his childhood memory in which he broke a bone. “I did it once before, when I was a lot younger and I broke a bone then as well. It was back in my club cricket days. On that occasion it was a fire door rather than a locker.”

8.  100 at Lord’s: During the first Test between England and New Zealand in May 2015 at Lord’s, Stokes went on to score a match winning hundred at this iconic venue. For this century, Stokes received praise from former cricketers. England went on to win the match by a big margin of 124 runs.

This match was a big boost for the England cricket team as this was their first series after an forgetful ICC Cricket World 2015 tournament where they were knocked-out in the group stage and were beaten by Bangladesh as well too. Looking back at that knock, Stokes quipped about how it changed everyone’s thinking after that match towards England, “It seemed in the Lord’s Test people were talking more about things off the pitch but by the end everyone was talking about the cricket again. It changed the way people looked at English cricket, it got people back on our side.”

9.  Nicknames: After fracturing his wrist because of punching in the locker, his teammates started calling him Rocky and to make more fun of that incident, they also used to call him The Hurt Locker. He has been also given a nickname by his teammate Alex Hales. Hales calls Stokes and Jonny Bairstow as Weasley twins — character of Harry Potter series.

10.  Motivational tattoos: The current lot of cricketers likes to have tattoos on their arm and Stokes is one of them. His arms also have motivational messages in his tattoos. His left arm tattoo reads, “Being the best that you can be is only possible if you desire to be a champion and your fear of failure is non-existent.  

Ben Stokes tattoos on right and left hand.
Ben Stokes tattoos on right and left hand.

11.  Hailed by Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff: Both Botham and Flintoff are considered to be England’s greatest all rounders and both the former cricketers have hailed this young lad. “As a player, he’s probably better than I was at 24. What I did was yesterday’s news, what he did is today’s news. He is not a jack of all trades and master of none. He is actually probably master of the three most important assets you need: batting, bowling and fielding,” said Botham. While Flintoff considers Stokes better than himself and once said, “I think Stokes has a lot more skill. He could be one of England’s greats.”

12.  The controversial wicket of Stokes: In the second One-Day International between England and Australia on September 5, 2015, Stokes was given out for obstructing the field. It was the fourth ball of 26th over bowled by Mitchell Starc at full length. Stokes drives it back straight and Starc grabs it and throws it back at the stumps. But in doing so, Stokes saw ball coming towards him and in order save himself fends his left glove, which instinctively looked that he was trying to protect him. Further he lost his balance and fell on the ground. The whole Australian team appealed for obstructing the field and decision was given out by third umpire Joe Wilson. Many former and active cricketers took considered that a very wrong appeal as Stokes was trying to save himself not to obstruct the field. There was a loud booing at the stadium after that wicket and eventually England lost the match by 64 runs and with the same number of balls left.

13.  His record breaking 258 against South Africa: During the second Test of Basil D’Oliveira Trophy between South Africa and England on January 2016 at Cape Town, Stokes went on to score a record breaking 258 in just 198 balls. England were struggling at 223 with the loss of five wickets but Stokes and Jonny Bairstow added 399 runs to sixth wicket, which is the highest Test partnership for sixth wicket. His score of 258 is the highest by a batsman in a Test innings, who came out to bat at number six position. He completed his double hundred in just 163 balls, which is now the second fastest double century in Tests after Nathan Astle’s 153-ball 200. His 250 came up in 196 balls, which is also the fastest 250 in terms of balls faced in Tests. He hit 11 sixes during his knock, which is second most number of sixes in an innings by a batsman.

14.  The heartbreaking final over of ICC World T20 2016: In the final of WT20 2016, England were facing West Indies and the last over of the game, the West Indian team needed 19 from 6 balls. Carlos Brathwaite was on strike and England’s captain trusted Stokes to bowl the last over but failed to deliver what was expected out of him as he was hit by the West Indies batsman for four consecutive sixes in that over. West Indies won the WT20 trophy for the second time in the history of T20 cricket. It was a huge heartbreak for Stokes as he couldn’t even bowl a dot ball to Brathwaite but instead of getting criticised, he gained a huge amount of support and sympathy towards him that actually might have helped him to recover from that.

15.  When Stokes entered WWE: When WWE came calling to the United Kingdom, Stokes couldn’t stop himself and pays a visit there. He was given the welcome reserved for the ‘Special Star’.

16.  Wife: Stokes got married quite early in his life to a girl named Clare Ratcliffe and has two kids as well. The name of his first son is Layton and other one’s name is unknown.

Ben Stokes with his wife Clare Ratcliffe and two sons. Image courtesy: Clare Ratcliffe (Facebook)
Ben Stokes with his wife Clare Ratcliffe and two sons. Image courtesy: Clare Ratcliffe (Facebook)

17.  Stokes’ Favourites: His favourite batsman and bowler are Kevin Pietersen and Dale Steyn, while his favourite food is omlette and it’s a known fact that he had the same breakfast before going 258 on day two of the second Test between South Africa and England on January 3, 2016.

18.  The kid in Stokes: Stokes may be  25, but the kid inside himself is still alive. On December 2015, Stokes uploaded a video of him with one of kid from his official Instagram account where made a fantastic jump and some crazy summersaults in the air after looking at the trampoline.

(Abhishek Kumar is a cricket devotee currently staffing with Criclife.com. He can be followed at abhicricket.kumar and @abhishekkr2593)