England vs New Zealand: Ben Stokes credits his lightning century to just 'having a hack'

The batsman needed just 85 balls to reach his century

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The Independent Online

It is an ethos that will inspire the even lowest-level village cricketer eager to up his or her batting average. England’s Ben Stokes’ record-breaking century against the country of his birth, New Zealand, was the result of the all-rounder persisting in “having a hack”, once he had got his eye in.

Stokes hit a brilliant century off 85 balls yesterday, the fastest ever made in a Test match at Lord’s. The aggressive left-hander struck three sixes and 15 fours in an astonishing assault on the New Zealand attack to swing the first Test England’s way.

“It was good. I rode my luck a little bit but you need a little bit to succeed. Things just went my way all day,” said the 23-year-old Durham man. “I felt I’ve got this far, I might as well keep having a hack. Things paid off.”

Stokes, who made 92 in the first innings, took a particular liking to fast bowler Tim Southee, launching him three times over the ropes at square leg and mid-wicket.

He pushed Matt Henry down the ground for four to reach 99 and nudged the single he needed to get to three figures in a test for the second time, punching the air with delight before embracing his partner Alastair Cook who also made a century.

“I got close in the first innings and was nervous but to get over the line was brilliant,” Stokes added. “I was pretty nervous when I was in the nineties again but to get that one away was a pretty special feeling, and to do it at the home of cricket was fantastic and something I’ll never forget.

“It is a great day personally but more importantly we are in a good position as a team.”

Stokes, who was born in Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island but moved to England at the age of 12, was heading back to the pavillion on 101, after he edged spinner Mark Craig to Ross Taylor at slip, but he left the field to a standing ovation.

His 92-ball knock – in which he reached 50 off 57 balls – was studded with crisp punches through the off-side, fierce pulls and booming drives all round the wicket, providing rich entertainment for the packed crowd.

The fastest Test century of all time was made by West Indies great Sir Viv Richards, who reached three figures off 56 balls against England at Antigua in 1985-86.

Stokes completed his century two balls quicker than India’s Mohammad Azharuddin, who took 87 deliveries to make a hundred against England at Lord’s in 1990.

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