England FINALLY claim a second win at the Cricket World Cup as they beat Netherlands by 160 runs after five straight losses to keep their Champions Trophy qualifying hopes alive… with Ben Stokes smashing a stunning century
- Jos Buttler’s team climbed to seventh in the standings with emphatic victory
- Stokes smashed 108 runs off 84 balls as England posted 339 for nine in Pune
- Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali both took three wickets as England cruised home
Ben Stokes may no longer be an ODI cricketer by the time the 2025 Champions Trophy comes round, but if England do qualify they will recall his latest rescue act with gratitude.
On a gloomy afternoon in Pune, where the clouds repeatedly threatened to add ‘soggy farce’ to the list of their World Cup misadventures, Stokes cracked a 78-ball hundred to end the debate about whether he should have flown home early for his knee operation.
Chris Woakes played a part too, scoring his first ODI half-century for three years as England recovered from 192 for six against a pumped-up Netherlands side who are also chasing a top-eight finish and Champions Trophy qualification.
But it was Stokes who grabbed the game’s scruff, hitting six fours and six sixes to take England well past 300 with the sort of calculated abandon that was once their trademark.
Up in the commentary box, Eoin Morgan had once again been bemoaning the ‘mixed messaging’ that he believes has contributed to his former colleagues’ demise.
Ben Stokes smashed a high class century as England defeated the Netherlands in Pune
Stokes celebrates his century as England posted 339 for nine batting first against the Dutch
Moeen Ali celebrates one of his three wickets as England finally ended their losing streak
And while Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and the increasingly frazzled Jos Buttler were all donating their wickets during a familiar collapse, his words assumed even more gravitas. Buttler knows, too, that defeat by Pakistan in Kolkata on Saturday may yet render this 160-run victory redundant.
But, for now, England can celebrate a win – almost a month after they last tasted it, against lowly Bangladesh – and for that their head coach Matthew Mott will be quietly thankful.
Mott had spent the previous night in the bar of the team hotel watching his Australian compatriots ride on the back of Glenn Maxwell’s Mumbai miracle against Afghanistan.
He might even have wondered whether Stokes could produce something similar against a Dutch team he represented twice in 50-over games against county sides in 2003 and 2004.
Until now, his tournament had been almost as frustrating as England’s. After missing the first three games with a hip injury, he had managed 112 runs in four innings at a leisurely strike-rate of 62. His fifth ODI hundred, and first at a World Cup, felt more like it.
There were moments of fortune. On 41, he was dropped by Aryan Dutt at long leg off Logan van Beek. And on 68 he might have been lbw to Dutt had TV official Marais Erasmus not decided, perhaps generously, that ball had brushed glove as he made a hash of a reverse sweep.
But England are in no mood to spurn gifts, and Stokes’s stand of 135 in 13.2 overs with Woakes was their most invigorating of the World Cup.
It was what preceded it that will concern Mott ahead of the game against Pakistan, who are playing for a semi-final spot.
The 160-run win offered small relief for captain Jos Buttler (middle) after five straight losses
Dawid Malan hits a big shot en route to his score of 87 off 74 balls opening for England
Jonny Bairstow can only look skywards in despair as he is dismissed for just 15
Bairstow took his tournament haul to 159 at 19 when he miscued a pull off Dutt for 15, before Root – thinking better of a reverse ramp – was embarrassingly bowled between his thighs for a stodgy 28.
Harry Brook made just 11 on his long overdue return, but the low point of an England collapse of five for 59 came when Buttler, on five, drove Paul van Meekeren to mid-off, and despairingly tossed his bat in the air.
It was the shot of an exhausted, distracted man, who now averages 13 out here, and may yet decide that a return to the 50-over ranks will benefit everyone – himself as well as the team.
Four years ago, Bairstow, Root and Buttler contributed 1,400 runs to the World Cup triumph, with five hundreds and seven fifties. Out here, it’s been 486, with not a half-century between them since the Bangladesh game.
Yesterday, England were fortunate that Dawid Malan has remained in decent touch, motoring to 87 before changing his mind about a single to cover and losing out to van Beek’s throw.
Bas de Leede celebrates taking the wicket of Harry Brook, who could make only 11
England skipper Jos Buttler failed with the bat once again, making only five before departing
Adil Rashid spun his way to three wickets as England dismissed the Netherlands for 179
But Stokes, on the ground where two and a half years ago he hit 10 sixes in an innings of 99 against India, and Woakes took England to 339 for nine.
Woakes then struck with the new ball, as Max O’Dowd chipped to mid-on, before David Willey had Colin Ackermann caught behind for a duck.
When Wesley Barresi was run out by a combination of Woakes and Moeen Ali, the Dutch were 67 for three, and perhaps adjusting their sights to the 272 they needed to stay above England on net run-rate.
But Willey had Sybrand Engelbrecht caught at mid-on for 33 and, with England’s spinners running amok they were skittled for 179. There was even a first couple of wickets in this World Cup for Moeen Ali, one of a few in this team nearing his ODI end.
Beating the Netherlands does not mean England are suddenly world beaters again. But it sure beats losing.
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