Victorious England captain Jos Buttler says World Cup hero Ben Stokes is “in the conversation” to be their country‘s greatest cricketer of all time after his MCG magic on Sunday night sealed his place.
If redemption was needed for Stokes, who gave up 19 final-over runs with the ball as the West Indies charged to victory in the 2016 T20 World Cup, it was achieved as the megastar all-rounder once again heaped his team on his shoulders and carried them over the line.
That 2016 loss, and the fallout from it, was a focus of Stokes’ documentary Phoenix from the Ashes, which was released this year, and Buttler said it came out too early because he “could have added this in”.
It was the second time in as many World Cups that Stokes’ efforts in the final were more than pivotal to winning, they were crucial, and adding his 2019 one-day heroics at Lord’s, plus his unforgettable, matchwinning Ashes century at Headingley the same year, ensured his place among the greatest English cricketers of all-time.
“Yeah, he can be in the conversation for sure,” Buttler said in the aftermath of England’s victory.
“It‘s an amazing story, really. It‘s a shame he did his documentary a year early, he could have added this in.
“He’s been on an amazing journey to have all these big moments.
“I always remember his words (in the 2019 ODI final) to (England quick) Jofra (Archer) that things don’t define you.
“He’s obviously never let the 2016 final push him back and the things he’s gone on to achieve in his career since then has been amazing.
“We’re immensely lucky to have him because he’s one of the great players of English cricket.”
Stokes hit the winnings runs and scored his first T20 half-century, blasting a six and a four in the 16th over among his unbeaten 52 to steer his team to victory over Pakistan despite a nervous start and some battling moments that didn’t go unnoticed by his captain.
“I think it certainly wasn’t his most fluent innings or (he) 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,” Buttler said.
“He’s a true matchwinner, and he’s been there in those scenarios time and time again. He just has a lot of know-how for how to do that.
“He’s a man who can take a lot of pressure on his shoulders and perform.
“When he’s still out in the middle, you know you’re in with a good chance.
“Just so proud of him, pleased for him that he’s stood up and done it again.”