South Africa v England, 2nd Test, Cape Town, 1st day January 3, 2016

Stokes only thought sixes, not a triple

ESPNcricinfo staff

Ben Stokes completes his 163-ball double century © AFP

Alastair Cook gave Ben Stokes the chance to reach a triple century on the second day at Newlands, but Stokes only had one thought on his mind: keep trying to hit every ball for six.

Shortly after England crossed 600 - for the first time since 2011 - a message came out to Stokes and Jonny Bairstow about the team plans. Cook had earmarked a declaration with 630 on the board, but was also aware of yet another milestone looming for Stokes. At the rate he was scoring, it may only have taken a few more overs to reach 300 - something an England batsman has not achieved since Graham Gooch's 333 against India in 1990.

"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 told Sky Sports

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.

Stokes had written himself a place in cricket history with the second fastest double century - off 163 balls - and the highest score by a No. 6, beating Doug Walters 250.

"Everything went my way, it hasn't quite sunk in yet," he said. "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."

Stokes had begun the second day with an initiative-grabbing onslaught against Morne Morkel and Chris Morris which continued the new-ball surged from the first evening.

"I wasn't intentionally going to play like that but I got myself in on a good wicket, the ball was starting to reverse, but the new ball came on faster and its conventional swing which is easier to play. You just try to get the shine off his quick as you can."

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  • Jason on January 4, 2016, 10:39 GMT

    @Chris_P, the moment he skewed the ball high he stood watching it, then decided to amble to the other end, figuring that he would be caught as it really was a dolly of a catch

    Great presence of mind by the fielder to throw down the stumps, so not quite the same as Watson, I think Stokes had actually switched off at that point though.

  • Sridhar on January 4, 2016, 6:26 GMT

    Wow!! What a treat it was to watch this young fellow wallop the hell out of the bowlers from the word go, till AB did the unthinkable - of putting down a catch!!! The first four overs of the day went for 45 - and after that numbers were simply running past the it were. Great show. Thoroughly enjoyed watching this innings and was lucky to have sat through the whole BEN-innings. Take a bow, laddie.

  • Shamshir on January 4, 2016, 5:10 GMT

    good hittar of cricket ball

  • Zeeshan on January 4, 2016, 2:34 GMT

    That moment when you are hyped pretty much from reading a CI story before seeing the match or highlights!

  • Peter on January 3, 2016, 21:50 GMT

    Although I didn't see it & this for English supporters, was it similar to Watson's Melbourne innings when Bell dropped him while Watson stood in the middle of the pitch instead of running before being run out? Stoke's response is another reason why I rate him, he was playing for his team, not milestones. Cooky, learn from this. I recall reading Keith Fletcher's book once when he declared Essex's innings when Allan Border was 94 or 95 and apologizing profusely to him for doing so when he came in. AB responded something along the lines, "Forget it Gnome (His nickname), the team ALWAYS comes first, every time.. now let's get out there & win this game". It gave Fletcher an insight on how different other countries play the game.

  • Jonathan on January 3, 2016, 17:52 GMT

    And Cook could have declared the moment Stokes was out, but fair play to him - he saw Bairstow was close to 150 and gave him the chance to get there (unlike a certain Mike Atherton declaring with Hick on 98 not out and blaming him for slow scoring when Atherton had been slower himself).

    It didn't exactly take him long either :-)

  • andrew on January 3, 2016, 17:38 GMT

    The best test all-rounder in the world.

  • Edwin on January 3, 2016, 17:33 GMT think the previous England regime didn't think him good enough to make the World Cup.

  • Nicholas on January 3, 2016, 17:25 GMT

    Oh so there was some swing on offer then!? Interesting... Our bowlers will need to exploit that then to stop this game petering out into a run-fest draw.

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