County Championship: England Test captain Ben Stokes hits 64-ball century on Durham return

by Sourav Das
4 minutes read
Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes hit 15 sixes before lunch on the second day at New Road
LV= County Championship Division Two, New Road, Worcester (day two)
Durham 580-6 dec: Stokes 161, Bedingham 135, Dickson 104; Gibbon 2-94
Worcestershire 169-6: Barnard 55, D’Oliveira 41; Potts 5-36
Worcestershire (1 pt) trail Durham (7 pts) by 411 runs

Ben Stokes hit a County Championship record 17 sixes in smashing 161 on his first Durham appearance of the summer, at Worcester.

All-rounder Stokes raced to his ton in 64 balls, sharing 220 for the fifth wicket with David Bedingham (135).

The England Test captain brought up his century – the fastest in first-class cricket by a Durham player – with five successive sixes off Josh Baker.

Durham declared on 580-6 and Worcestershire were 169-6 at stumps.

Set batters Ed Barnard (55) and captain Brett D’Oliveira (41) fell just before the close to leave Durham in complete control.

‘It was good fun’

Stokes came to the crease early on the second morning when Scott Borthwick was trapped leg before by Ben Gibbon and, after a steady start, produced an awesome display of power hitting.

“It was good fun,” the 30-year-old told BBC Radio Newcastle.

“The game was set up very nicely by our top five and I just felt I had to play the situation, and once we got to our last batting point, I was just trying to get as many runs as I possibly could because it is a good wicket.”

He went to his hundred with his 10th six, the last five of which came from the first five balls of an over by slow left-armer Baker.

The final ball of the over narrowly failed to clear the ropes and went for four as 34 runs were taken off it, and he was 147 not out at lunch.

“I knew as soon as I hit it that it didn’t have the legs,” Stokes said. “I hope he (Baker) can use it as an experience. I know what it’s like (to be on the receiving end) so I hope he doesn’t look into it too much because it was pretty much do or die for us.”

Stokes surpasses Symonds and Napier

It is the second time Stokes has hit five consecutive sixes in a County Championship game, having also performed the feat against Hampshire in 2011.

In reaching his century off 64 balls, the 30-year-old beat the previous fastest first-class ton in Durham’s 30-year history, eclipsing Paul Collingwood’s previous mark of 75 deliveries set at Taunton in 2005.

Stokes smashed 15 sixes in total before the interval at New Road, as well as eight fours, as he cruised past the score of Bedingham, who resumed the day unbeaten on 69, and helped Durham secure maximum batting points.

Scoreboard at New Road
Ben Stokes kept the scoreboard operators busy during his brilliant knock

He added two more sixes early in the afternoon session to pass the 16 hit in a first-class county game by Andrew Symonds for Gloucestershire against Glamorgan in 1995 and Graham Napier for Essex against Surrey in 2011.

“People bring it up, but you don’t play the game for stuff like that,” said Stokes, who changed his bat on a number of occasions during his innings.

“The actual reason for that is that I had four new bats sent to me and once I realised I had a good bat I got the next brought out – and they were all good.”

Stokes is playing in the County Championship for the first time since July last year when he was unable to finish Durham’s game with Warwickshire after being called up to captain England in their one-day international series against Pakistan when an entirely new 18-man squad had to be named because of a Covid outbreak.

He is set to lead England for the first time since being appointed to succeed Joe Root as Test captain in next month’s three-match series against New Zealand.

Potts shines with ball

He was eventually caught off D’Oliveira and the declaration came after Bedingham, who contributed 135 to a stand of 220, was dismissed.

Matty Potts then ripped out the Worcestershire top order with four wickets before Barnard and D’Oliveira steadied things by sharing a partnership of 101.

Stokes bowled nine overs without taking a wicket and it was Chris Rushworth, who eventually removed D’Oliveira, before Potts bowled Barnard and bad light ended play 12 overs early.

Potts has figures of 5-36 – the third time he has taken five or more wickets in a first-class innings.

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