Jos Buttler feels Ben Stokes is “in the conversation” to be viewed as England’s greatest ever cricketer after the all-rounder’s latest star turn secured T20 World Cup glory.
Stokes was belted for four successive sixes by Carlos Brathwaite in the last over of the 2016 final as the West Indies snatched a win from under England’s noses, but a line was drawn under that night here.
Already an England hero after his 2019 50-over World Cup final exploits, he added another chapter to a storied career by underpinning England’s chase of 138 against Pakistan in this MCG showpiece.
It was not his most fluent knock – as at Lord’s three years ago, this pitch was desperately tricky for batters – but his 52 not out off 49 balls helped seal England’s five-wicket win with an over to spare.
“He always stands up in the biggest moments,” Buttler said. “He’s a man who can take a lot of pressure on his shoulders and perform. With him in the middle, you know you’ve got a good chance.
“He’s a true match-winner and he’s been there in those scenarios time and time again. He just has a lot of know-how for how to do that.
“It certainly wasn’t his most fluent innings or he probably didn’t time the ball as well as he can, but we knew he was never going to go down without a fight and stand up and be there at the end.
“We’re immensely lucky to have him, he’s one of the great players of English cricket and he can be in the conversation for sure (to be regarded as England’s greatest cricketer of all-time).”
This was Stokes’ first T20 international fifty and he now possesses unbeaten half-centuries in both ODI and T20 World Cup finals as England became the first men’s side to hold both titles simultaneously.
Stokes missed a large chunk of last year because of lingering finger trouble and to look after his mental wellbeing, as chronicled in his ‘Phoenix from the Ashes’ documentary released earlier this year.
“It’s an amazing story, really,” Buttler said. “It’s a shame he did his documentary a year early. He could have added that in. He’s been on an amazing journey, all these big moments.
“He’s obviously never let that 2016 final push him back. You think of the things he’s gone on to achieve in his career since then, it’s just amazing.”
Stokes preferred to focus on the bowlers after Pakistan were reduced to 137 for eight, with Sam Curran, named player of the tournament, taking three wickets and Adil Rashid and Chris Jordan two piece.
“When you chase totals in games like this you can forget the hard work that goes in before,” Stokes said on Sky Sports. “The way we bowled – Adil Rashid, Sam Curran – that’s what won us the game.
“To restrict them to what we did, the bowlers have got to take a lot of credit.”
Buttler has joined an exclusive club containing Eoin Morgan and Paul Collingwood, who won this competition in 2010, as cricketers who have led England’s men’s side all the way at a global event.
— ICC (@ICC) November 13, 2022
“It’s amazing. It’s been a fantastic tournament for us, to now be sat here with the trophy, I’m just immensely proud of everyone involved,” Buttler said. “I think we fully deserved it.”
As the holders of both white-ball World Cup trophies – they have also reached at least the semi-final stage of every worldwide competition since 2015 – there is a strong argument for England to be regarded as one of the best limited-overs sides of all-time.
“It’s not for us to judge but we certainly enjoy that,” Buttler added. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t go on from strength to strength.”