The lucrative foreign buy in the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL), Ben Stokes has been termed as a much-improved version of the player by former England skipper Ian Botham after Durham star enjoyed a successful stint in 2017 IPL with his team Rising Pune Supergiant led by Steven Smith reaching the final.
“I think he’s come back from India a better cricketer and I think people should look at the bigger picture and not just say ‘he’s got a knee injury – he got that in the IPL’ when in fact, he’s had that a while,” Botham was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.
Stokes, who clinched the Most Valuable Player award in his maiden IPL season, scored 316 runs at an average of 31.60 as he also, claimed 12 wickets while conceding runs at an economy rate of 7.18.
The cricketer-turned-commentator, Botham believes Stokes has enhanced as a player, who has a knack of learning things at his will, after being on a long tour to India, where he had also registered a sublime century against Suresh Raina-led Gujarat Lions, in the group stage game.
“He has matured as person and cricketer. People were saying to me ‘do you think he should have gone for that long to the IPL?’ The answer is ‘yes’ because he’s come back a better cricketer,” Botham maintained.
The 61-year-old Botham has praised Durham allrounder for showing his elegance both with the bat and a ball as he has been strong down the ground.
“If you let him off the hook, he makes you pay. He was magnificent. He’s so powerful down the ground and he drags the ball well; he can drive it too,” Botham maintained.
In a thrilling contest at The Rose Bowl which further saw visitors, led by AB de Villiers, losing a match by just two-run. It was Stokes, who registered his second ODI century, to help his side — post a decent total on the board.
The Christchurch-born Stokes’ 79-ball innings was laced with 11 boundaries and three sixes after he was dropped by southpaw Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla on consecutive balls on the bowling of debutant left-arm orthodox spinner Keshav Maharaj.
Botham further added he has been an asset for England, who is having a liking for the Proteas bowlers.
“You can’t set fields to straight hits like his. I think he likes batting against South Africa,” Botham added.
Interestingly, the promising all-rounder was bought in whooping INR 14.5 crore by Supergiant during the February’s IPL Players’ Auction.
After making his debut in 2011, Stokes has featured in 55 ODIs, 32 Tests and 22 Twenty20 Internationals for England. He has bagged 79 Test wickets followed by 47 in ODIs and 10 in T20Is.
The left-handed power-hitting sensation has scored 1902 runs in longest format – Test cricket – followed by 1,370 runs in 50-over cricket and 192 in 20-over format