Ben Stokes, the newly-appointed England Test captain, smashed a record-breaking century for Durham against Worcestershire on Day 2 of the LV=Insurance County Championship match, striking 17 sixes.
Durham declared their innings on 580/6 thanks to Stokes’ brutal hitting, with Stokes contributing 161 runs (88 balls Worcestershire were 169/6 at the end.
Stokes’ 16 maximums set a Championship record, surpassing those of Australia’s Andrew Symonds (1995) and England’s Graham Napier (2011) for Gloucestershire and Essex, respectively.
On his way to 161, Stokes scored 34 runs off an over by Josh Baker. Ian Botham, the legendary cricketer and Durham Chair, was among those who witnessed the performance.
With England set to begin their lengthy summer schedule on June 2 at Lord’s, Stokes’ destructive form would be music to the ears of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). England has only won one of the 17 Tests it has played.
Stokes’ knock was his first since England’s 10-wicket loss to the West Indies in the third Test in Grenada.
Durham resumed on 339/3, and Ben Gibbon claimed his second wicket of the innings when Scott Borthwick, on 89, was lbw to an angled back in delivery. Stokes started slowly to keep himself in the game, scoring only 12 runs off his first 30 deliveries.
But then there were the fireworks. His first maximum came off Ed Barnard over mid-wicket, and it set the tone for the rest of the morning.
U-19 England spinner Baker took the brunt of the punishment in one over in which he was in danger of being hit for six sixes. According to Durham Cricket, Stokes’ century came off 64 balls, with the first five deliveries clearing the ropes.
Stokes’ innings came to an end when he holed out to Jack Haynes on the mid-wicket boundary off Brett D’Oliv
“It was good fun. I think the game got set up very nicely by our top-five (batters). I just had to play the situation and then, once we got our last batting point, it was about trying to get as many runs as we could,” said Stokes after his innings.
“There are records you don’t know (17 sixes), and people bring them up. You don’t play the game for stuff like that,” added Stokes.
(Inputs from IANS)