England captain Alastair Cook hailed the impact of Ben Stokes as his side completed a stunning 124-run win against New Zealand in the first Test at Lord’s on Monday.
The hosts had been 134 runs behind after their first innings, but with Cook making 162 and Stokes powering his way to an 85-ball century, the fastest-ever Test hundred at Lord’s, they set New Zealand 345 to win on the fifth and final day.
It proved too much for the Black Caps, who collapsed to 0-2 and 12-3.
Then Stokes — born in Christchurch, New Zealand, but brought up in Cumbria, England — struck twice in two balls to reduce the tourists to 61-5 as the lively seamer captured the key wickets of first-innings century-maker Kane Williamson and skipper Brendon McCullum.
B.J. Watling (59) and Corey Anderson (75) checked England’s progress, but when they fell in quick succession the writing was on the wall for New Zealand.
“Ben Stokes played an innings of the like I’ve never seen before,” Cook said. “We had a hundred lead when he came in, and when he was out two hours later it was about 270 and I’d scored 10 of them.”
Stokes also made 92 in England’s first innings, having come in when his side were in desperate trouble at 30-4.
“We’ve just got to keep backing him and he will be a tremendous cricketer,” Cook added.
Man-of-the-match Stokes, the 23-year-old son of former Kiwi rugby league international Ged Stokes, insisted his hundred on Sunday had been a “fluke.”
“Without doubt, it’s a career highlight,” he said after taking 3-38 on Monday. “The whole match has been amazing... I didn’t expect that innings. It was more of a fluke.”
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