A few weeks ago, in a hotel in Jaipur, Ben Stokes spoke publicly for the first time about the aftermath of that night in Bristol.

He was, in many ways, frustrated to revisit an episode from which he had moved on. And from which he thought everyone else should have moved on too. He had been exonerated, after all. Stokes' main point was, in essence, that he didn't want to be defined by it. As he put it, "I don't want to be remembered as the guy who had a fight in the street. I want to do things on the field to be remembered for. If we win the World Cup, that becomes the first paragraph [of his ESPNcricinfo profile]."

He didn't want to be remembered for that night in Kolkata, either. England's men's side haven't won many global tournaments: to have one snatched away in such dramatic fashion as occurred that night in April 2016 hurt for a long time. More importantly, it could have scarred many cricketers and made them avoidant of similar high-pressure moments. As Eoin Morgan put it: "A lot of careers would have ended after what happened in Kolkata."

WATCH on Hostar: How the match ended in a Super Over (India only)

Yet here was Stokes, once more at the helm when a match had to be decided. And not just any match. A World Cup final. A game that represented the culmination of four years' work and would define the reputation of this England side. A game upon which the game in England and Wales hoped to win many new supporters. The stakes could not have been higher. And when his team needed someone to be there at the end, it was Stokes putting his hand up.

It was no surprise. For it has been telling that, in his last five innings of the tournament, Stokes has scored between 79 and 89 four times. Just as it was telling that it was Stokes who provided the late-innings acceleration against India (he scored 79 in 54 balls), and Stokes who stood unbeaten (with 82) when the lower-order collapsed (England's last six batsmen contributed 32 runs between them) in the defeat against Sri Lanka. His 89 in the group game against Australia at Lord's went in vain, but it was noticeable that he was the only man in his side to reach 30 in the innings. Whatever the need, whatever the occasion, he has adapted his game the best he can to serve his team.

And he delivered. He held his nerve, he oversaw a testing run chase, and he saw - just about - his side over the line. He is now a World Cup winner. More than that, he has a Man-of-the-Match award in the first World Cup final England's men team have won. It was Stokes who brought cricket home. His rehabilitation is complete. His legacy assured. This is what fulfilment looks like.

Stokes' reputation, with the bat at least, is probably that of an audacious strokemaker. And as he showed when slog-sweeping Trent Boult for six in the final over of England's chase, he can play some remarkable shots. He was the only man in the England innings who hit a six, and from a point of apparent hopelessness, he made 32 from his final 13 deliveries to earn the Super Over.

But that reputation sells him a bit short. For he is also an intelligent, calm cricketer with fine technique. He has made Test centuries in Perth and Rajkot, against pace and spin, and timed this chase with calm precision. It took him 81 balls to reach his half-century here - an age in England's modern ODI history - after he reasoned his side could not afford to lose him. He has developed into a thoughtful, versatile cricketer who can adapt his game to suit his side's needs. He is now averaging 54.31 at a strike rate of 87.16 since he came back into the ODI side.

That's just as well too. For while many of us expected this tournament to be contested upon the flat, high-scoring wickets on which England built their reputation, they have actually been contested on surfaces offering bowlers far more assistance. As a result, the batsmen who have excelled are, on the whole, those who have adapted. And adaptation has not always been the area in which England have been strongest.

It's not just with the bat he has adapted either. Having accepted that other bowlers were better suited to the role of wicket-taker in this tournament, he became England's second most economical bowler in the campaign - he conceded 4.83 runs per over; Jofra Archer conceded 4.57 - while also finishing with his team's highest batting average (66.42) and passing 50 five times. Not even Joe Root or Jason Roy managed it more often. "He really carried the team and our batting line-up," Morgan said.

Don't forget his fitness, either. He had already covered much ground in the field, bowled a few overs and batted for two and a half hours before the Super Overs started. Yet he was the man Morgan chose to bat again; a decision Stokes justified with eight from three balls and some demanding running between the wickets. And of course he pulled off one of the catches of the World Cup, in the opening match against South Africa. "Superhuman" was Morgan's description of his efforts; it seems about right.

That this result was achieved, in part, by a moment of incredible fortune - a throw deflecting for four overthrows off Stokes' bat - was cruel for New Zealand. Stokes looked genuinely mortified to be the unwitting beneficiary. He apologised to Kane Williamson at the time - an apology that was graciously accepted - and admitted it "wasn't the way I wanted to do it". There was, though, perhaps something fitting about England winning on the basis of hitting more boundaries. Such big-hitting has been the bedrock of their approach over the last four years or so, after all.

Perhaps there may be some consolation that Stokes has New Zealand heritage too. He lived in the country until he was 12 - his parents and brothers still do - and he has Maori ancestry, which some in his family think contributes to his unquenchable spirit. Maybe, in a way, the people of New Zealand will take pride in his success. And maybe, in a way, they will take pride in the manner in which England have adopted New Zealand's approach to the game. New Zealand's influence has changed cricket for the better. It won't feel like it right now, but in its own way maybe that matters more than trophies.

Certainly the people of England and Wales should be proud of Stokes. He has been knocked down. He has known dark days. But he has climbed back up and, on the biggest occasions, when his team-mates needed him most, he has always taken responsibility and very often delivered. He is a fine cricketer, a fine team-mate, and yes, a fine role-model. Ben Stokes: World Cup final match-winner. That's his reputation now.