Ben Stokes has said that England’s young team should use a memorable victory over South Africa as a stepping stone towards greater things, after he helped seal a 189-run win with three late wickets on a thrilling final day at Newlands.
Stokes, who also scored 119 runs in the match and claimed six wickets at slip in an outstanding personal display, paid particular tribute to Dom Sibley, whose maiden Test century in the second innings laid the platform for his own explosive contribution of 72 from 47 balls.
Stokes even tried to persuade Sibley to join him on the podium after being named Player of the Match.
“I came in in situations where it was do-or-die, really, and I thought Dom put all the hard yards in to get us into a position of winning,” Stokes said during the post-match presentations. “He’s the Man of the Match. He’s the one who should be up here.
“Full credit’s got to go to Dom for how he played in his first Test hundred, at the most beautiful ground in the world. And full credit’s got to go to everyone who played this week. We’ve got three members of the group who are 21 years of age, and have had to step up on the biggest stage.”
“Sam Curran, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope and even Dom himself, they are so inexperienced in that batting unit but they’ve shown how good they are. The future looks great for us, and hopefully this is a stepping stone because we’ve shown a serious amount of character, and what we’re all about.”
Joe Root, however, ensured that Stokes could not deflect all the praise, after another display of selfless team-orientated Test cricket helped England to their first victory at Cape Town in 63 years.
As if his runs and catches were not enough, the manner in which Stokes stepped up on the final afternoon, amid doubts about James Anderson’s fitness, was exemplary. He effectively ensured the win with two wickets in as many balls to prise out Dwaine Pretorius and Anrich Nortje first ball, then sealed the deal with 8.2 overs remaining as Vernon Philander fenced to gully.
“He makes things happen, he’s a golden nugget in our side,” Root said. “And it’s not happened by accident, he works bloody hard and sets a great example to the young guys around in our team as they come into this side, seeing what Test cricket is like and how different it is to county cricket.
“They are having to learn on their feet, and in situations like that and they’re standing up as well, which this week has really pleased me, and made me really proud of a very young set of lads.
“But you can you can throw the ball to Stokes or you can put him in any situation and know he’s going to stand up for you,” Root added. “He’s going to do absolutely everything for the rest of the guys, he plays 100 percent for the team. And he’s a brilliant role model for all the other guys coming through.
“He’s a brilliant senior player. He stands up and puts in a spell like that, a nine-over spell, he just keep running him free all the time. and as we’ve seen with the bat, he can he can really change the game from any situation. So he’s a world-class player and deserves all the plaudits he can get from the game.”