Stokes withdraws from New Zealand award – and throws weight behind rival

2019 Cricket World Cup
Ben.Stokes.New_.Zealand.PA_

Ben Stokes has withdrawn from the New Zealander of the Year award after being nominated last week in light of his World Cup exploits – and urged New Zealanders to instead throw their support fully behind inspirational Black Caps captain Kane Williamson.

Stokes, who was born in New Zealand but has lived in England since the age of 12, was man of the match in that astonishing World Cup final, won by England on boundary countback to leave the country of his birth to ponder a heartbreaking defeat.

In a statement, Stokes said he was flattered to be nominated and remains “proud of my New Zealand and Maori heritage” but to be nominated for such a prestigious award “would not sit right with me”. Stokes identifies Williamson, also announced in the early list of nominees, as a “Kiwi legend” more deserving of his country’s support.

“There are people who deserve this recognition more and have done a lot more for the country of New Zealand,” said Stokes’ statement.

“I have helped England lift a World Cup and my life is firmly established in the UK – it has been since I was 12 years old.

“I feel the whole country should align their support to New Zealand captain Kane Williamson. He should be revered as a Kiwi legend.

“He led his team in this World Cup with distinction and honour. He was the player of the tournament and an inspirational leader of men.

“He shows humility and empathy to every situation and is an all-round good bloke.

“He typifies what it is to be a New Zealander. He would be a worthy recipient of this accolade.

“New Zealand, fully support him. He deserves it and gets my vote.”

Stokes and Williamson were both named in the ICC team of the tournament after starring in the World Cup, while Williamson’s even-handed response to such a heartbreaking defeat has earned plenty of plaudits.

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