Ben Stokes hits dazzling century as England rack up runs in second Windies Test

Stokes’ 11th Test century, and first since July 2020, was a charismatic and rowdy affair.

Ben Stokes paid tribute to his late father with his celebration (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)
Ben Stokes paid tribute to his late father with his celebration (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

Ben Stokes unloaded a brilliant century as England piled up the runs in Barbados, reaching 482 for six on day two of the second Test against the West Indies.

Stokes’ 11th Test century, and first since July 2020, was a charismatic and rowdy affair with six sixes launched into the stands and 11 boundaries for good measure.

His ball-striking was so true and his influence so magnetic that captain Joe Root was happy to slip into the shadows and play a supporting role despite starting the day 119 not out.

Ben Stokes was in imperious form in Barbados (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

Root eventually fell after lunch for 153 but had already ceded centre-stage to his vice-captain. When the muse takes Stokes, there is really no other option and he muscled his way into the spotlight with 91 of their 129-run partnership.

Beginning his innings from scratch following Dan Lawrence’s dismissal off the final ball of the previous evening, he put together a highlights reel of classy shots interspersed with increasingly muscular heaves into the crowd.

At one stage he looked set to become the first English batter in history to go from nought to 100 before lunch, but although he had to settle for 89 in the morning session, he had already set a fierce tone.

The 30-year-old passed 5,000 Test runs along the way, becoming just the fifth player in history to pair that with 150 wickets. The other names on the list – Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Ian Botham, Kapil Dev and Jacques Kallis – place him in a true pantheon of great all-rounders.

Having shown a greater degree of caution following Root’s dismissal, he went down in a blaze of glory, caught in the deep in pursuit of a third straight six off Kraigg Brathwaite.

Stokes looked in the mood from the very start, getting off the mark with a rollicking on-drive off Jayden Seales before getting his eyes right over ball as he creamed Kemar Roach square through cover point.

A fine reverse sweep off Veerasammy Permaul showed his subtler side, but he soon decided to indulge his more industrial tendencies. Concluding that this attack, on this tired surface, was there for the taking, he smashed the spinner for two steepling sixes into the wind over long-on. The second brought up his half-century as the ball came to rest on the roof of the Worrell, Weekes and Walcott Stand and was not seen again.

Wicketkeeper Josh Da Silva missed a chance to stem the bleeding, hesitating for a crucial second when Stokes overbalanced and opened himself up to a stumping. The next ball was flogged into the party stand as Stokes retreated deep in the crease and the assault was back up and running.

With Root settling for a sequence of risk-free singles that passed the strike to Stokes, the latter tore strips off Alzarri Joseph in a 20-run over that saw a hat-trick of boundaries and another crashed six down the ground.

Joe Root reached 153 (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

He did not quite get enough strike to complete his dash to three figures before the break, but his bruising performance had already raised the roof. The West Indies found a way back into the game with the seventh ball of the afternoon, Root playing inside the line to fall lbw to Roach.

By then he snapped up another England record from predecessor Sir Alastair Cook, with his 12th score of 150 or more. Stokes was more becalmed in the aftermath, providing more stability as he nudged his way through the 90s.

A single took him to his first hundred in 20 months, with an emotional celebration as he raised a crooked finger to the sky in a touching tribute to his late father Ged. Jonny Bairstow came and went for 20, top-edging Joseph to deep midwicket, before Stokes went back into Alpha mode.

Three times he tried to pump Brathwaite’s loopy spin all the way, with varying degrees of success. The first went all the way into the fans, the second was carried over the rope by John Campbell and the third nestled in Shamarh Brooks’ hands at long-off.

In his absence, Ben Foakes and Chris Woakes took things on, busily adding an unbroken 58 before tea.

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