England all-rounder Ben Stokes was left to reflect on what a difference 10 months can make after his stirring innings of 92 against New Zealand on the first day of the first Test at Lord’s on Thursday.
In July last year, Stokes was out for a duck in each innings of the Lord’s Test, a match India won by 95 runs to go 1-0 up in the series.
Stokes, in the thick of a miserable run of low scores for England in all formats, was dropped and it wasn’t until last month that he resumed his Test career, against the West Indies in the Caribbean.
It had earlier been the scene of one of Stokes’ career lows when, in 2014, he broke his wrist hitting a locker in frustration after a golden duck in a Twenty20 match against the West Indies in Bridgetown.
“Punching the locker was a stupid moment and something, I hope, I’ll never do again — because lockers are generally harder than bones and wrists,” Stokes said after Thursday’s play.
Hours earlier, the 23-year-old Durham all-rounder had walked out to bat with England in the dire position of 4-30 after losing the toss.
However, he responded by putting on 161 for the fifth wicket with Joe Root — who also fell shy of a hundred in making 98.
Stokes was bowled playing no stroke to off-spinner Mark Craig when in sight of what would have been just his second Test century following a dynamic 120 against Australia in Perth in 2013.
England eventually finished the first day of this two-match series on 7-354 and Stokes, trying to put his innings into context, said: “I bagged a pair last time I was here, so things couldn’t have got any worse really.
“It was obviously disappointing to get out so close to a hundred at Lord’s.
“But the bigger picture is we’re in a really good position now,” added Stokes, the New Zealand-born, but England-raised, son of former Kiwi rugby league international Ged Stokes who, together with his wife, is now back living in Christchurch.
Having followed his son’s innings from New Zealand, Ged Stokes tweeted: “@benstokes38 @clarey_11 off to bed very well batted my boy#proudmum&dad.”