Ben Stokes gave the selectors a stunning reminder of his talents with a brutal century and three wickets as England Lions beat South Africa A by 89 runs yesterday to wrap up the one-day series.
Durham all-rounder Stokes, who was in England’s 30-man provisional squad for the World Cup but controversially failed to make the final cut, clubbed 15 sixes and seven fours as he scored an unbeaten 151 off 86 deliveries at the Mamelodi Oval in Pretoria. Jason Roy (67) and Sam Billings (56) also weighed in with half-centuries as the Lions ran up 378 for 6 after being sent in to bat in the fourth unofficial one-day international.
Stokes then showed his skills with the ball, taking three of the final four South Africa wickets to fall as the hosts were bowled out for 289 in the 43rd over, leaving the Lions with an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
Nine of Stokes’ maximums came off the last 15 balls he faced – including four in the final over off Test-capped Marchant de Lange.
Meanwhile, Mitchell Johnson has told England they are “dreaming” if they think all the pressure is on Australia at the start of the World Cup. The rivals meet in Melbourne on the opening day of the tournament, 14 February.
The England captain, Eoin Morgan, who was bowled first ball by Johnson in the Tri-Series final on Sunday, gave a curious press conference, studiously avoiding giving the left-armer credit. He also suggested the combination of home advantage and recent dominance over England meant Australia had everything to lose when the sides next meet.
“Every team is under pressure, it is a World Cup,” Johnson said in response. “They are dreaming if they think they are not under pressure. Every team is going to be under pressure, you’ve got to win pretty much every game.”Reuse content