Nasser Hussain says Ben Stokes has an “aura” akin to Sir Ian Botham and Shane Warne – and is the most important part of England’s one-day side.
Stokes was named Man of the Match in his just his second game back for England since he was arrested outside a nightclub in Bristol in September and subsequently charged with affray.
The all-rounder scored an unbeaten 63 from 74 deliveries as Eoin Morgan’s side levelled the five-match ODI series against New Zealand with a six-wicket win in the second encounter at Bay Oval.
Sky Cricket expert Hussain says Stokes must now forget missing the Ashes and the fact the Bristol incident will “define” his career and focus on becoming an “even better” cricketer and person.
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“Some people keep you in games and others change them – Stokes is the latter.
“There were some good cricketers in the T20 Tri-Series series for England but none with real aura where you walk in and think: ‘He’s there’, like Ian Botham, Shane Warne and Brian Lara had.
“Stokes is falling into that category and Morgan will be very pleased to have that cricketer. The most important part of this very good one-day side is Stokes’ aura and character.
“It’s incredible that he gets Man of the Match in his second game back – that’s the impact cricketer he is and why people are bending over backwards and spending a lot of dollar getting him across to the IPL.
“These two games are probably the only two times in the last five months he hasn’t been thinking about that incident in Bristol.
“When you’re out on a cricket field, you just think about playing cricket – that’s his job, what he was brought up to do and what he loves doing.
“He hasn’t gone into the Beefy bat-cave and cocooned himself away – he has been out and about, having breakfast away from the hotel with a couple of team-mates, playing a bit of golf, been fishing.
“If you didn’t know what had happened in Bristol, you wouldn’t assume there was any difference.
“This period has been hugely difficult for him as he is a team man through and through – I’ve never heard one bad word said against him from a team-mate.
“I don’t want to get into the rights and wrong about it but he was sat at home watching his team-mates perform badly in the most high-profile series there can be for an England cricketer – the Ashes.
“He must have felt he was letting them down – Ben and Trevor Bayliss are inseparable and even Bayliss said he had let them down.
“Ben would have been thinking Bristol was a sliding-doors moment – ‘if I turned right instead of turning left, could I have been out there winning the Ashes?’
“He will be remembered for that for the rest of his career – that will define him and he will be reminded about it on the boundary, but he now has to put that behind him. It’s gone, it’s done and dusted.
“Sometimes in life it’s not about what happens to you but how you react that’s important – he has come out here and taken in on the chin.
“Ricky Ponting turned his life around, David Warner turned his life around [after off-field incidents] – and they are pretty good cricketers.
“Stokes has to look at it the same way and say: ‘I can become an even better cricketer and, more importantly, an even better person’.”
Watch the third ODI between New Zealand and England, in Wellington, live from 12.30am on Saturday on Sky Sports Cricket. Coverage starts on Sky Sports Main Event at 1am.
New Zealand vs England
March 3, 2018, 12:30am
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