Sir Ian Botham feels Ben Stokes is a better player than he was at 24
Stokes broke Botham's record of fastest double-century scored by an Englishman in England's second test match of the South Africa tour
Sir Ian Botham has praised Ben Stokes and said that the 24-year-old is a better player than him at this age. All the appreciation came after Stokes broke his record by scoring the quickest double-century by an English batsman and second-fastest overall in the second test match against South Africa at Cape Town.
Ben Stokes still has a long way to catch Botham’s record at the age of 25. When both was 25, he was the captain of the side, had six centuries to his name and took 14 five-wicket hauls, whereas, Stokes has three centuries and 2 five-wicket hauls to his name.
The English legend compared his Headingley Ashes Test match innings from 1981 with Ben’s quickest double ton and believes that Stokes will be a crucial part of every plan that England makes in the next decade.
He said, “As a player, he's probably better than I was at 24. What I did was yesterday's news, what he did is today's news.”
"He is not a jack of all trades and master of none. He is actually probably master of the three most important assets you need: batting, bowling and fielding.
"His bowling can only get better. He has all the attributes: he has pace; he can swing the ball; he can reverse it; he can bowl orthodox. And he is terrific fielder close to the bat, in the covers or midwicket, backward point, on the boundary."
The 60-year-old was not disappointed with the fact that a player of Stokes’ caliber has broken his records. He already feels that the player is better than Andrew Flintoff and suggests that “he'll take more five-fors.” According to Botham, Stokes should be allowed to play his natural game without any complications.
"I enjoyed watching Ben Stokes. I have been a massive fan of his since I first saw him on the international scene. I think he has got tremendous, enormous potential to go all the way,” he said.
“That was one of those moments when you can just say 'I was there'. When you think back to Headingley '81, I know there were only about 10,000 people in the ground but I have met three-and-a-half million who say they were. Well, I was there for Ben Stokes.”
Stokes is crucial to Alastair Cook’s selection policy: Botham
Botham, who played in 102 test matches for England, wants Ben Stokes to enjoy the moment and enjoy his game right now, he thinks that he just needs to focus on his shots and not the statistical data and also the fact that Cook’s selection policy could be crucial.
“Just let him go. Mike Brearley did absolutely the same with me. There was no leash in any way.”
"I didn't think too much. There is too much thinking about the game, too much analysis, looking at computers. I don't need to look at a computer to know I've played a **** shot. It's not that hard.
"But he is crucial to Alastair Cook's selection policy. If he's playing, then Cook actually has an option of two other players in his mind. He is the genuine article.”
Botham feels Bairstow offers a lot to English cricket
Botham also hailed John Bairstow's first century and believes that this innings will give him stability and the much-needed confidence, he said, “I think Jonny Bairstow offers a lot to English cricket," he said. I have always been a fan of his. He was a rough diamond three years ago but you knew those skills were there.”
"He only put one down one chance and it wasn't easy. He also had the first stumping for three years by an English keeper in Durban. I think there are more pluses than negatives. He works very hard at his game and he will only get better. I genuinely think he is good enough.”