History-maker Ben Stokes savoured the innings of a lifetime after his record-breaking double century underpinned England’s brutal assault on a shellshocked South Africa during day two of the second Test in Cape Town yesterday.
All-rounder Stokes unleashed a merciless attack on South Africa’s bowlers, clubbing 200 from 163 deliveries to hit the second fastest double hundred in Test history, and the quickest by any English batsman – surpassing Sir Ian Botham’s 220-ball record.
The 24-year-old was eventually dismissed for 258 from 198 balls after sharing 399 – a sixth-wicket world record – with Jonny Bairstow, who struck his maiden Test century and finished unbeaten on 150.
England had racked up a gargantuan 312 in 39 overs by the time skipper Alastair Cook put the hosts out of their misery and declared on 629-6, while South Africa reached 141-2 by the close of play.
“I’ll probably never play like this ever again in my life while playing cricket but I’ve done it once so at least I can say that,” said Stokes, who had made just one half-century in his previous 13 innings. “I normally say ‘crikey’ when I get to 30, to be honest.
“I felt a bit of pressure coming into the game with not having too many runs under my belt in the Tests before this, so there was a lot more emotion than I do normally show when I got to the hundred especially.
“I just tried to keep on going and wasn’t really thinking of any landmarks or anything as I went along, I just tried to hit as many boundaries as I could because it was too hot to run.”
Resuming on 74 not out, Stokes cracked 30 fours and 11 sixes – the most by any Englishman in one Test innings – as he chalked up the highest individual score for an England batsman against South Africa.
Looking to equal Wasim Akram’s record of 12 maximums in a Test innings, left-hander Stokes finally perished after being run out by a direct hit, having initially been fumbled at mid-on by AB de Villiers.
Bairstow, meanwhile, was not shy in swinging the bat as the duo shared 399, a partnership only bettered by the 411 between Peter May and Colin Cowdrey against the West Indies in 1957, and amassed 150 from 191 balls.
South Africa were teetering when opener Stiaan van Zyl was run out for just four before the world’s No1-ranked Test side rallied, only for Stokes to dismiss first-Test centurion Dean Elgar for 44, courtesy of Nick Compton’s diving catch at point.
The hosts, who trail 1-0 in the four-Test series, will resume on 141-2 after Hashim Amla ended an 11-innings drought without a half-century by reaching 64 not out, while De Villiers finished the day unbeaten on 25.