Stokes takes top PCA award after what really was a fairly mad 2019

Stokes Celebration PA 2

To no great surprise, given that his 2019 was potent enough when combined with recency bias to have apparently contained the two greatest performances by an England cricketer of the last 50 years, Ben Stokes was named players’ player of the year at the PCA awards do on Wednesday.

All-rounder Stokes played a starring role in England’s maiden men’s World Cup win before repeating his heroics to help salvage an Ashes draw with Australia.

The 28-year-old Durham player was honoured for those achievements by scooping the Reg Hayter Cup ahead of fellow nominees Simon Harmer, Ryan Higgins and Dom Sibley.

Somerset’s Tom Banton picked up the PCA young player of the year, while England bowler Sophie Ecclestone collected the women’s player of the summer.

Other award winners included ODI player of the summer Chris Woakes, flying in the face of the requirement for him to be perennially under-appreciated, Test player of the summer and all-round hero (that last award not an official PCA one) Stuart Broad, and County Championship player of the year Harmer.

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Speaking at the PCA awards ceremony in that London, Stokes said: “It’s a proud moment to win the award. I think that is because it’s voted for by everyone else, the other players.

“In terms of reflection, I think there will come a time where I will be able to take it all in but I don’t think that will come until I retire really becomes it all comes so thick and fast. This will definitely be a summer that I will be able to look back on forever.”

Asked if it was the best year of his career to date, he replied: “Yeah, definitely.

“Winning the World Cup was an amazing feeling to be a part of – seven weeks of hard toil to then walk away with with the World Cup was brilliant, and then a great Ashes series to be part of.

“This will take some beating but hopefully it does happen.”

Stokes won the young player award in 2013 and becomes only the sixth player to collect the PCA’s top two male honours.

Ben Stokes catch England South Africa World Cup PA

Having started the World Cup with an outstanding catch in the curtain-raiser against South Africa, his unbeaten 84 against New Zealand in the final was central to England winning the competition for the first time.

He followed that up with a sensational 135 not out against Australia at Headingley, a stand-out innings in an Ashes series where his 441 runs at an average of 55.12 was his team’s best aggregate total.

Despite Australia retaining the urn courtesy of a 2-2 series draw, Stokes’ herculean efforts in recent months mean he is the favourite with bookmakers to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, which as everyone knows is still the real quiz even for people who have literally won the World Cup.

England captain Joe Root paid tribute to his team-mate, saying he was unsurprised by his performances during an unforgettable summer.

“He’s awesome, he really is. He’s a massive driving force of this team, one of the senior players across the board,” Root said.

“He works extremely hard behind the scenes at his own game, helps other lads around the dressing room.

“And I’m not one bit surprised by the success he’s had this year – I’ve seen it coming a long time off.

“I couldn’t be more delighted for him, a brilliant vice-captain, one of those players you want in the big moments in the big games.”

Young player of the year Banton has been included in England’s Twenty20 squad for the winter tour to New Zealand after amassing more than 1,000 runs across the two domestic limited-overs competitions.

The 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, who won ahead of James Bracey, Zak Crawley and Sibley, began the season uncertain of his role at his club.

“If you’d told me at the beginning of the year that this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Banton said.

“It’s obviously a nice feeling.

“I think at the beginning of the year, I wasn’t entirely sure where I stood at Somerset, either white or red ball. I wasn’t sure if I was going to play, if I was going to be in the (second XI).”

Left-arm spinner Ecclestone scooped the female honour for the second successive year.

The 20-year-old was her country’s leading wicket-taker in the multi-format series against the West Indies with six scalps, while she had 13 victims in the unsuccessful Ashes campaign.

“I feel like I’m a bit more of a presence in the team now than I was last year, and I’ve enjoyed getting my point of view across,” she said.

“The big goal is to get ready for that World Cup and show everyone what we’re all about.”