England v South Africa: The Ben Stokes Present – in additional methods than one

England v South Africa: The Ben Stokes Show - in more ways than one


It takes a great all-rounder to be the star of two shows at the same time.

In the case of Ben Stokes, there was an inevitability that the day of his first century as England captain would also mark the release of his documentary Phoenix from the Ashes.

The centre of attention in two places at once.

“Who writes your scripts?” Ian Botham, one of Stokes’ predecessors as an England action hero, was once asked by Graham Gooch.

Stokes doesn’t follow a script. He calls the shots, not only with the way he plays, but how he is moulding the England team in his own image.

His 2019 World Cup and Ashes heroics had already secured his place in English cricketing folklore well before he was given the task of fixing a broken Test team.

The early days of his captaincy suggest that leadership will only add to the legacy. A lost outfit have been given an identity, a romance with forlorn fans has been rekindled. He has even spoken about saving Test cricket itself.

Stokes’ batting method in the first part of…