The 11th Test century of Ben Stokes’ career was perhaps his sweetest, the all-rounder said on Thursday after plundering West Indies and helping England into a commanding position in the second Test in Barbados.
Stokes took 114 balls to reach his hundred, before removing his helmet, lifting his eyes towards the heavens and giving a crooked finger salute as the largely English crowd rose to their feet in appreciation.
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He bent the middle finger in his left hand in a tribute to his late father, Ged, who had the same finger amputated after incurring multiple dislocations during a career as a New Zealand rugby international.
Ged died of brain cancer in September, 2020 and Ben subsequently took a mental health break from cricket last year while recovering from a broken finger, as the loss of his father along with the demands of living in a COVID-19 “bubble” also took their toll.
“Playing in a team sport, you never like to think in a selfish way, but out of the hundreds I’ve got, personally that’s probably one of the most memorable, with everything that’s been going on the last 18 months, couple of years,” Stokes said.
He was speaking after a compelling 120 that cemented England’s dominance at Kensington Oval.
There are few batters capable of taking apart a bowling attack better than Stokes, who after a careful start scored at nearly two runs a ball en route to his third fastest Test century.
He piled up six towering sixes before holing out at long-off.
“We have a very long batting line-up and once I got in I tried to seize the opportunity of us having so many runs on the board,” Stokes said.
“You’re not always going to be in such a fortunate situation, good wicket, loads of runs on the board, trying to get as many runs as you possibly can.”