Ben Stokes says he tried to hit every ball for a six, instead of trying to reach a triple century on day two of the Newlands Test.
Stokes (258 off 198) smashed the fastest ever double-century by an England player as Alastair Cook declared on 629-6 midway through the second session.
Stokes had bludgeoned the Proteas for almost three sessions since they took the second new ball late on day one. He was on 74 overnight but reached his century in no time as he smashed South Africa’s bowlers to all corners of Newlands in an innings of brutal, aggressive force and determination. He made batting look effortless and, for the first hour of the day, batted as if this was a T20 game rather than a Test match against the supposed No 1 team in the world.
His hundred (off 105 balls) is the fastest scored in South Africa since Mitchell Johnson (103 balls) in 2009 and his double-century (off 163 deliveries) is the second-fastest ever and the fastest by an Englishman.
Shortly after England crossed 600 – for the first time since 2011 – a message came out to Stokes and Jonny Bairstow (150 not out) about the team plans. Cook had earmarked a declaration with 630 on the board, but was willing to give Stokes time to reach a triple century which, at the rate he was going, would have taken him merely a few more overs.
‘Cooky actually ran a message and said “630 or do you want to go for 300?” I said it doesn’t really matter because I’m just trying to hit every ball for six,’ Stokes said.
In the end, Stokes’ unforgettable innings ended on 258 although in chaotic circumstances when AB de Villiers dropped a catch only to then throw down the stumps.
‘I wasn’t expecting AB to drop it,’ Stokes said. ‘Everything went my way. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet. We had a lot of runs, I thought we were in a good position, so just tried to chance my arm and thought we were in a good position anyway.’