Ben Stokes became the seventh member of the 4000 Test runs and 100+ wickets club as he helped put England in a commanding position on day two of the third Test.
The allrounder, recently named the ICC Player of the Year, continued his fine form and his liking of the South African bowling attack as he plundered the Proteas to all parts of St George’s Park, including nearly down the Baakens River valley after one particularly large six off the bowling of Keshav Maharaj.
Stokes was eventually removed by debutant Dane Paterson, after the plan to pack the offside field and lure the England star into a false shot reaped reward.
Many will argue, though, that the horse had already bolted as he departed with the score on 351. He was joined in the middle yesterday by Ollie Pope with the score on 148.
During his knock of 120, Stokes moved into a select club featuring the game’s finest. His name now sits alongside Sir Garfield Sobers, fellow Englishman Sir Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Daniel Vettori, Carl Hooper and South African legend turned batting consultant for the current team, Jacques Kallis.
And despite the dismissal of Stokes, the runs kept flowing as Pope went on to reach his maiden Test hundred. In doing so at the age of 22 years and 15 days, he became the youngest to reach the milestone for England since Alastair Cook in 2006. Only seven English batsman have made centuries at a younger age
Stokes and Pope ensured that the visitors made 400+ batting first for the first time in a Test since the Perth Ashes Test in 2017.