England legend David Gower has lauded Ben Stokes, praising the work he has done as captain in transforming the Test team and claiming his performances have “outshone” those of fellow all-rounder Sir Ian Botham.
Stokes has guided England to nine wins in ten since taking charge of an England Test side that had won just one of their last 17. In 2019, he played one of the greatest innings in Test history to keep the Ashes alive when he struck a match winning 135 not out in the third Test at Headingley.
Stokes has also produced unbeaten match winning knocks in both the 2019 50-over World Cup and the 2022 T20 World Cup. “Ben is an extraordinary player, I can’t put it any higher,” Gower told Gulf News.
“Ben in some ways has outshone Botham I suppose. The innings [at] Headingley in 2019 is awesome. He changed from stonewall defence to outright offence, it’s one-off, but brilliant.
“Then the World Cup final at Lord’s hinged on Stokes’ innings. An outstanding performance from an outstanding man, though some luck came in their way.”
Gower also gave his thoughts on Stokes’ ODI retirement, with the all-rounder announcing in July last year that the current schedule meant playing all three formats had become “unsustainable”. However, England white-ball coach Matthew Mott remains hopeful Stokes will reverse his decision ahead of the upcoming World Cup, insisting the “door is always open” for him to return.
And Gower believes England need Stokes if they are to “have a proper go at winning the World Cup again”. He added: “Everyone would love if Ben plays in the ODI World Cup, someone who is growing up to be a remarkable individual.
“Who would have believed in these events in the last 12 months? He has developed into a magnificent leader and the part [Brendon] McCullum plays works beautifully.
“The way they have transformed the England Test team in a matter of weeks, when he took over, has been just unbelievable. If they want to have a proper go at winning the World Cup again, then the best thing they could do is to persuade him to be part of the team again.”