The celebration, or lack of, probably said it all.
After his latest three-figured rescue act, Ben Stokes gave an almost apologetic wave of the bat and a bent finger signal to the sky – his regular tribute to his late father.
Throughout it all the helmet stayed on.
Stokes usually saves his best for when it matters most. Fighting for qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy was not what he hauled himself out of one-day retirement for.
Still, Stokes’ century, which set up a 160-run win over the Netherlands, was England’s talisman in his purest form.
As a kid Stokes cut off a cast to play a school cup match with a broken arm and scored a hundred.
Two decades later he came back from a broken finger to captain England when Covid-19 wiped out an one-day international entire squad.
In Pakistan, when his Test party was struck down by illness, he persuaded spinner Jack Leach, a man whose career has been hit by various health problems, to play in the first Test in Rawalpindi by promising to look…