Ben Stokes’ stats already made for impressive reading, but with his four wickets in the second innings of England’s first Test against West Indies at the Ageas Bowl, he joined an exclusive club alongside some of the great all-rounders in the game’s history.
He became just the sixth player and second Englishman in the history of Test cricket to have scored 4000 runs and taken 150 wickets. It represents another step towards cementing him amongst the elite.
Stokes, the pick of the England bowlers, removed the West Indies’ top-scorer Kraigg Brathwaite, their talismanic skipper Jason Holder, and Shane Dowrich, whose 61 was as impressive as it is significant to the state of the game. Yet it is the dismissal of Alzarri Joseph that will hold the most personal significance to England’s stand-in skipper; his 150th victim, Stokes the bowler deserves greater acclaim than he sometimes enjoys. And it was an excellent delivery with which to reach the landmark, the balling nipping back and castling into middle and off.
For many, the swashbuckling genius for which Stokes is renowned already situates him amongst the game’s greats. The stats now make that assessment indisputable. The others to have achieved the dual milestones are Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Jacques Kallis and Daniel Vettori; he has joined the all-rounder aristocracy.
Sobers’ Test batting average – 57.78 – is markedly superior to Stokes’ 36.64. That said, with the ball the England all-rounder averages 1.35 fewer runs per wicket than the West Indian. Kallis, like Sobers, was a statistically more accomplished batter – averaging 55.37. But on the bowling front there’s basically nothing in it as Kallis averages 0.03 fewer runs per dismissal.
When comparing Ben Stokes’ stats to those of Botham’s, the leading man of the ’81 Ashes certainly has a better bowling average – 28.40 vs Stokes’ 32.68. The more recent hero of Headingley scores more runs per knock as Botham only averaged 33.54 by the end of his career. However, when Botham had played the same number of Tests as Stokes has now (63), he averaged fractionally more and had three more tons.
New Zealand’s ex-spinning all-rounder, Daniel Vettori, has inferior stats with both bat and ball in hand, averaging exactly 30 per knock and 34.36 runs per wicket, although the Kiwi does have 20 five-wicket hauls, significantly more than Stokes’ four. Kapil Dev is the player with whom England’s number five is most statistically aligned; the former-Indian all-rounder had a bowling average of 29.64 and batting average of 31.05, with eight tons to Stokes’ nine and 27 half-centuries to Stokes’ 21. It’s worth noting however that’s Dev’s batting milestones were reached in over double the games.