Ben Stokes named world's leading cricketer by Wisden

Ben Stokes named world’s leading cricketer by Wisden after starring role in England’s thrilling World Cup win and unforgettable miracle at Headingley in the Ashes

  • Ben Stokes enjoyed a remarkable year as England’s hero in World Cup and Ashes 
  • All-rounder’s brilliant innings against New Zealand helped win epic final  
  • And his unbeaten 135 at Headingley was one of the all time great Test displays 
  • Stokes is the first Englishman since Andrew Flintoff to be picked by Wisden  

Ben Stokes, the hero of England’s dramatic World Cup triumph and the miracle of Headingley last summer, has been named the leading cricketer in the world.

Wisden, still the sport’s bible in its 157th year, picks Stokes as the first Englishman to win the prestigious award since Andrew Flintoff in the fabled Ashes summer of 2005. And it ends the domination of India captain Virat Kohli, who had won it for the last three years.

‘Ben Stokes pulled off the performance of a lifetime – twice in the space of a few weeks,’ said Wisden editor and Sportsmail cricket writer Lawrence Booth.

Ben Stokes’ innings at Headingley was sporting drama of the highest order last summer

The England all-rounder also starred in the World Cup final win over New Zealand 

Stokes is the first Englishman named as cricketer of the year by Wisden since Andrew Flintoff

‘First, with a mixture of outrageous talent and good fortune, he rescued England’s run-chase in the World Cup final, before helping to hit 15 off the Super Over.

‘Then, in the third Ashes Test at Headingley, he produced one of the great innings, smashing an unbeaten 135 to pinch a one-wicket win. Against red ball or white, he was a force of nature.’

Stokes would, of course, also been one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the year, a traditional that goes back to 1889, but he won the award in 2016 and it is still one of the long-standing rules of the Almanack that any cricketer can only be named once.

So Booth, in his ninth year in the Wisden chair, has instead this year named three Ashes combatants from last year in Jofra Archer, Pat Cummins and Marnus Labuschagne, the man who did so much to land Essex a domestic double in Simon Harmer and Australia’s women’s Ashes hero Ellyse Perry.

It was a mixture of outrageous talent and good fortune when Stokes steered the run chase

Stokes slumped in the dressing room as the magnitude of his Ashes achievement sunk in

‘Jofra Archer had an unprecedented impact in his first summer as an international cricketer,’ said Booth. 

‘He showed astonishing poise to bowl the Super Over that delivered England the World Cup, then produced some of the quickest and most memorable spells in recent Ashes history, knocking over Steve Smith at Lord’s, and finishing the series with 22 wickets at just 20 apiece.’

Cummins, crucially fit just at the right time after so many injury problems, was key in holders Australia retaining the Ashes in a series that ended up as a 2-2 draw. 

‘Pat Cummins was a constant menace as Australia retained the Ashes in England for the first time since 2001,’ said Booth. 

‘He was fast, hostile, accurate – and rarely without a smile. His haul of 29 wickets was the most in a series by a bowler not taking a five-for. He looked what he was: No 1 in the world.’

Pat Cummins (centre) was crucial in Australia successfully retaining the urn last year

Harmer captained Essex to the T20 title for the first time, being particularly instrumental on Finals day, while his off-spin was again the key factor in Essex’s second County Championship title in three years.

‘Thanks in large part to the off-breaks of Simon Harmer Essex enjoyed the summer of their lives,’ said Booth, becoming the first county to win the Championship and the T20 titles in the same season. 

‘His four-day haul of 83 wickets at 18 included a remarkable haul of 10 five-fors, while his performance with both bat and ball on T20 finals day ensured victory off the last ball.’

Labuschagne is heralded as an Ashes ‘curio who started the season as Test cricket’s first concussion substitute and then ended it as Australia’s best batsman after Steve Smith,’ while Perry is chosen for ‘dominating the women’s Ashes like none before her.’

There is no doubt that 2019 belonged to Stokes and he delivered unforgettable memories 

Wisden, such a reassuring presence at such an uncertain time, is full of its usual mixture of quality writing, statistics and curiosities, with Eoin Morgan contributing an outstanding piece on the diversity of his World Cup winning side and Paul Allott writing a moving article on the passing of his great friend Bob Willis. 

Both formed part of Sportsmail’s exclusive serialisation of this year’s Wisden last week.

And this year’s Almanack, which is published today, sees our own Booth reaching the longest single stint as editor since Norman Preston edited the last of his 29 Wisdens in 1980. 

The only pity is that his 10th next year is now likely to have a very different, truncated look to it.

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