Ben Stokes broke New Zealand hearts with the stunning and controversial finish to the World Cup, handing England their first triumph.
Despite the boundary countback leading to plenty of debate over the rules, no one was doubting Stokes role in handing England the trophy.
He scored 84 off 98 balls, including the overthrows that went to the boundary, where he was awarded six runs and continuing the discussion.
But for the moment which has been dubbed the “Bat of God”, Stokes showed his true colours, reportedly asking the umpires to overturn the decision and just award the two runs.
And he has now been rewarded by the country who’s hearts he broke with a nomination for New Zealander of the Year.
Yes, you read that right New Zealander of the Year.
Stokes, who was the player of the final, has been nominated alongside New Zealand skipper and World Cup player of the Tournament Kane Williamson.
After news came out Stokes would likely be knighted with both Prime Ministerial frontrunners confirming they would look at the honour for the star, the honour from his vanquished foes must have come as a surprise.
Ben Stokes could take another trophy off the Kiwis.Source:Getty Images
Stokes was born in Christchurch and lived in New Zealand until he was 12 years old before moving to England when his father Gerard took up a rugby league coaching job.
Gerard, a former New Zealand rugby league representative player, returned to New Zealand in 2013 but Ben stayed in England and has become one of the world’s best all-rounders.
New Zealander of the Year chief judge Cameron Bennett said Stokes “might not have been playing for the Black Caps but, having been born in Christchurch where his parents now live and with Maori ancestry, there’s clearly a few Kiwis about who think we can still claim him.” Bennett said the way Williamson conducted himself in the face of devastating disappointment in the final and throughout the World Cup resonated with Kiwis.
“He’s been the embodiment of the qualities we cherish as New Zealanders — courage, fairness, humility,” he said.
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It would be a stunning turn of events if Stokes, who orchestrated New Zealand’s demise, was named the man of the year.
After the “Bat of God” incident, Stokes profusely apologised to the Kiwis and even mentioned it post-match as he accepted the man of the match award.
“In that last over, when the ball hit the bat and went for four, I apologised to Kane countless times for that, that’s not exactly how you want to do it,” he said.
He also said: “I said to Kane Williamson, ‘I’ll be apologising for that for the rest of my life’.”
Stokes was very apologetic after the “Bat of God” incident.Source:Getty Images
Stokes’ Test teammate Jimmy Anderson revealed Stokes had appealed to the umpires to turnover their decision which could have seen the match never reach a tie.
“The etiquette in cricket is if the ball is thrown at the stumps and it hits you and goes into a gap in the field you don’t run,” Anderson told the BBC’s Tailenders podcast.
“But if it goes to the boundary, in the rules it’s four and you can’t do anything about it.
“I think, talking to Michael Vaughan who saw him after the game, Ben Stokes actually went to the umpires and said, ‘Can you take that four runs off. We don’t want it’.
“But it’s in the rules and that’s the way it is. It’s been talked about for a while among the players, potentially that being a dead ball if it does hit the batsman and veer off somewhere.”
Stokes has also bounced back after he missed the 2017-18 Ashes when he was investigated by police after an incident in Bristol which left a man in hospital with facial injuries.
Former English captain Andrew Strauss said the incident helped shape Stokes into the man he is today.
“I remember going to the police station and spending a long time with Clare, his wife, waiting for him to come out of jail,” Strauss, who was managing director of the England team at the time, said. “What struck me was his character because he stood up and said ‘I’ve got this horribly wrong. I apologise sincerely for what I’ve done’.
Ben Stokes is a changed man according to Andrew Strauss.Source:Getty Images
“From that moment on, I thought it was going to be a good thing for him. I knew it would be very noisy and hard for us to navigate but people can go two ways after something like that.
“Anyone who has played with Ben knows what an incredible person he is to have on your team. I think we’ve seen some of those rough edges smoothed a little over the last 12 or 18 months without him losing that competitive streak and incredible desire to win.”
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