Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Stokes' 258 leads England assault

Published:Monday | January 4, 2016 | 1:00 AM
England batsman Ben Stokes plays a shot during the second cricket test against South Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, yesterday.

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP):

Ben Stokes unleashed one of cricket's most destructive innings for his 258 as England racked up 629-6 declared in a morale-crushing day for South Africa in the second Test yesterday.

Stokes powered to the second-fastest double century in Tests in an astonishing display of dominance over the struggling but still top-ranked Proteas, propelling England from 317-5 overnight to its huge first-innings total in less than 40 overs of power hitting on the second day at Newlands.

"I'm probably not going to play like this ever again in my life," the 24-year-old Stokes said.

Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, who was 150 not out, had a record partnership of 399, with Stokes claiming the fastest 250 in Test cricket, before he was run out. Their partnership was the best for the sixth wicket in Tests and England's second best for any wicket.

South Africa, staring at a big defeat and a 2-0 series deficit, was fighting at 141-2 at stumps, still 488 behind. England had removed both openers - Stiaan van Zyl to a run out and Dean Elgar for 44 - to give Stokes a wicket to go with his brilliant contribution with the bat. Captain Hashim Amla was 64 not out and AB de Villiers 25 not out, desperately trying to hold England at bay.

Earlier, when England declared two balls after Stokes' dismissal, the tourists had scored 312 runs in a session and a half at a scintillating rate of nearly seven per over. On a day of landmarks under Table Mountain, the bigger picture was that England amassed its second-highest total in more than 120 years of Test cricket in South Africa, only behind its 654-5 in the timeless Test in Durban in 1939.

That was almost entirely down to the stunning Stokes-Bairstow partnership, a boundary-filled stand that left South Africa utterly dejected and way behind in the series, having already lost the first Test by 241 runs.

"It was just a very intense session and a half by Ben Stokes, which was quite amazing to watch from where I was standing," South Africa's Elgar said. "I was standing at the boundary a lot, fetching the ball."

Stokes' catalog of big blows brought a series of stats. He bludgeoned 30 fours and 11 sixes, the most sixes for England in a Test innings. The 130 he scored in the first

session was the most by any player before lunch in a Test. The double hundred came off 163 balls, only behind Nathan Astle's double ton off 153 deliveries for New Zealand against England in 2001-02.

Having made just his third Test century, he went to 200 with a pull through midwicket for four, and leaped in the air with his fist pumping. His 250 off 196 balls was quicker than anyone else. The style of his innings was clear: 186 runs came from crunching blows to the boundary - or over it.

On any other day, Bairstow's 150 off 191 balls with 18 fours and two sixes would have drawn the attention.

England scored 196 in 25 overs before lunch and 116 in 13.5 overs in the afternoon, before Alastair Cook put the South Africans out of their misery with the declaration.

The end result was that England, already 1-0 ahead in the series, was in complete command at one of South Africa's favourite grounds, and where England hasn't won since 1957.

But the ground's reputation as a bastion for South Africa came crumbling down with Stokes' assault. He finally fell to a bizarre dismissal when he hit a swirling catch to short mid-on, where AB de Villiers dropped the chance but managed to run out Stokes at the non-striker's end with a direct hit.