Ben Stokes joins the 100 Test club this week in the more unlikely surroundings of Rajkot as England get back to business in India following a week off.
A headline-grabbing career has brought more peaks than troughs and, here, the PA news agency looks at the England captain’s best Test moments ahead of his landmark appearance.
120 v Australia – Perth, December 2013
England were getting mauled by moustachioed menace Mitchell Johnson et al on a calamitous 2013/14 Ashes tour but Stokes was undaunted. In his second Test on a WACA pitch bursting with deep, wide cracks, the then 22-year-old earned Australia’s grudging respect with a hard-nosed fourth-innings century. England lost but months after being told he was squandering his gifts by Andy Flower amid some indiscretions on a Lions tour, Stokes’ surreptitious “I’ll show you” response came to bear in extraordinary fashion.
101 v New Zealand – Lord’s, May 2015
In and out of the side due to injuries, under-performance and a lack of role clarity, Stokes rewarded the decision to elevate him to number six in the batting order with two buccaneering innings. Ten months on from a chastening pair at HQ, Stokes followed up a rescue-act 92 with an 85-ball hundred – the quickest ever at Lord’s – before snaring Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum with successive balls in an England win. His place in any side when fit and available has never been in doubt since then.
Six for 36 v Australia – Trent Bridge, August 2015
Stuart Broad’s eight for 15 rightly lives longer in the memory but the ‘oh my Broad’ image that summed up the 2015 Ashes was largely down to Stokes’ one-handed leaping catch in the cordon to see off Adam Voges. In Australia’s second innings, with Broad having nothing like as much impact, Stokes channelled his inner James Anderson, finding some prodigious swing, to ultimately make sure England regained the urn. Remarkably, it is the only time in his career Stokes has been part of an Ashes-winning side.
135 not out v Australia – Headingley, August 2019
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) August 25, 2020
Stokes’ magnum opus came six weeks after his scarcely-credible heroics in the 2019 World Cup and a year and a week after being acquitted of affray in a Bristol court case that threatened to overshadow his career. After England were skittled for a miserly 67, Stokes, perhaps seeking to atone for his loose shot, first bowled himself into the ground to take three for 56 then roused the hosts in a then national record chase of 359. Watchful at first before exploding with just number 11 Jack Leach for company, Stokes kept the Ashes alive and sent Headingley into raptures with a knock for the ages.
103 v South Africa – Emirates Old Trafford, August 2022
Despite starting his reign as England Test skipper with four wins out of four, Stokes and the so-called ‘Bazball’ methods alongside McCullum came under scrutiny when they lost to South Africa at Lord’s. England also threatened to throw away a handy position in Manchester but measured tons from Stokes – his first since assuming the captaincy – and Ben Foakes quietened any criticism. Stokes also collected a couple of top-order wickets in both the Proteas’ innings to seal a resounding win.