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‘The claw’: How a finger injury could be the secret to Ben Stokes’ catching prowess

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Ben Stokes is no stranger to taking brilliant catches, and speaking on a Sky Watchalong of the first morning’s action of the 2015 Trent Bridge Ashes Test, Stuart Broad revealed that a finger injury sustained by the all-rounder at the start of his career could be the secret to his success.

That session, in which Broad claimed 8-15 to virtually win the Ashes, contained one of Stokes’ most famous grabs, of Adam Voges off the right-armer to leave Australia five wickets down within 25 balls of their innings.

“Stokesy’s got this finger that we call ‘the claw’ that he badly broke and dislocated when he was 20 or something, and it’s almost double the thickness of any normal finger,” said Broad. “I genuinely think it helps the ball stick in his hand.”

Stokes injured his right index finger stopping a Paul Horton drive in a County Championship game for Durham against Lancashire in 2011,  and it threatened for a time to have a significant impact on his career. The all-rounder was forced to undergo three surgeries, the last of which involved taking some bone from his wrist and putting it in his finger joint.

While the New Zealand-born cricketer has taken plenty of stellar catches, the other which stands out, alongside the Trent Bridge catch, is the dismissal of Andile Phehlukwayo in the first game of the 2019 Cricket World Cup. When asked which of the two catches he felt was better, Broad didn’t specify, but did note the Trent Bridge catch as displaying Stokes’ “reaction” and “instinct”.

“I obviously watched that World Cup one on the telly, and that was awesome,” Broad said. “That was special, but I think this one, for reaction, for instinct, just watching it live, being close to it was so special.”

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