Ben Stokes. (AP Photo)
MANCHESTER: Former England pacer Dominic Cork reckons star all-rounder Ben Stokes will go on to become one of his country’s greatest cricketers ever.
Stokes, the hero of England’s World Cup triumph last year, sparkled with a fine 176 and powered his side to a strong first-inning total of 469/9 declared in the ongoing second Test against the West Indies.
“I genuinely think he can get better because of his work ethic. He wants to bat, he wants to bowl, he wants to work on his game, wants to get better,” Cork said on Sky Sports show The Cricket Debate.
“I know he works a hell of a lot on his bowling as well. I just see this man not becoming only the best in the world but one of the best we have had ever. That’s how highly I rate him.”
The former seamer thought things changed for the better for the World Cup hero after the Bristol bar brawl three years ago.
Last year, Stokes himself had said that the unsavoury incident and the ensuing chain of events, which dogged his career for 15 months, may be the best thing that could have happened to him.
Following the incident in September 2017, Stokes was acquitted of affray by a Bristol court in August 2018, before the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) ended his 15-month exile after a hearing in December 2018.
Former England batsman Ravi Bopara also spoke about the remarkable change in Stokes’ approach.
“I think there has definitely been a change with Ben. He has made his mistakes and learnt from them. He looks a formidable cricketer,” he said.
“He is a fiery character and always has been – even if you are playing PlayStation in hotel rooms.
“But as he has had a more important role in the side as an all-rounder, making an impact with bat and ball, winning games for England, and since England have started looking at him as the main guy, his attitude has changed with it.”
West Indies lead the three-match series 1-0 after their win in the opener at Southampton.