For the cricket romantic the game ought to be played with finesse and grace. Under Ben, England’s approach to Test matches swings a wrecking ball at the remains of this romantic ideal.
During the final session of the last day at Trent Bridge, Jonny Bairstow and Ben’s fearless batting demolished New Zealand.
Sport at its best bubbles, then simmers before reaching a boiling point of scalding high drama.
Yesterday, England boiled over and scalded New Zealand.
The day started with New Zealand on 224-7. Sixty runs were added by the Black Caps. The England batters accepted the challenge and set about, rapidly, scoring the required 299 runs for victory.
England wobbled at 93-4, but their collective nerve never faltered.
Either side of tea, Bairstow, supported by Ben, entertained a packed Trent Bridge. The pair rejected tentative, safety-first batting; rather, both played without fear and with freedom.
Ben, and in particular Bairstow, smashed into the New Zealand bowlers as the ball repeatedly crossed or cleared the boundary. In just 20. 1 overs the Bairstow-Stokes pairing bludgeoned 179 runs.
New Zealand salvaged something from the wreckage when Bairstow fell for 136 crunching runs. His 77 ball century took him above Ben, to claim the second fastest 100 scored by an English batter.
It was left to Ben and Ben Foakes (12) to complete a 5 wicket win and an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
If Bairstow was the star of the wrecking crew, Ben had the pleasure of hitting the winning runs to finish on 75* (4 sixes, 10 fours) off 70 balls.
This was Ben’s third half-century against New Zealand at home and his highest score in Test matches at Trent Bridge.
Speaking after the Test, Ben said,
"I can't take too much credit for that. For all five days, the boys were phenomenal with bat, ball and in the field.
"I think today was set up perfectly for the way we want to go about things looking forward. We don't want to back away and stand still."
(Photo by Ashley Vlotman Gallo/Getty Images)