“He just seems to get better and better,” said Root. “We are watching a player at the peak of his powers, at the peak of world cricket, delivering time and again.” He added: “We have to savor that and understand we are in the presence of greatness.”
England beat West Indies in the 2nd Test : Ben Stokes stars with one more incredible performance
Stokes all of 29, put in astonishing performance with bat and ball, and seemingly everything in between, scoring a contrasting 176 that took more than eight hours and a 57-ball 78 to help his side establish a 311 lead on the morning of day five. The win, sealed just as the final hour began, squares the series ahead of the third and final Test on Friday.
He also bowled 27.4 overs in the match and took three wickets, bowled long spells of sustained, hostile, short-pitched bowling on a largely unresponsive surface.
“It would be very easy for us to not appreciate how good a performance this was because of the lack of atmosphere in the ground,” said Root. “He will have thoroughly enjoyed this week.”
‘Mr Incredible’ Ben Stokes folklore is growing by the day
Stokes’ display in Manchester is the latest in a growing list of stellar performances. In the last year alone, he has been named man of the match for dragging England through in the World Cup Final, played one of the all-time great innings to defeat Australia at Headingley and inspired England to victory over South Africa in the second Test in Cape Town.
He is the current International Cricket Council player of the year and Wisden’s leading cricketer in the world.
“He can keep performing at this level and I’d love to see him get better,” said Root. “The sky is the limit for him. To have such a complete game, with so many different gears at his disposal, allows him to get better.”
Stokes’ exploits helped England to a 113-run win over West Indies that levelled the series at 1-1 and set up a decider at the same ground, which begins on Friday.
“We’ve all got an understanding of what we represent, the role models that we are,” he said.
“We want to pave the way for cricketers in 20 years’ time. It’s not all about the present. Inspiring the next generation is a big thing for us.
“We know we have a duty on the field to win games, but we also understand that we have a duty to all the youngsters that aspire to be in the position that we are.”
Since the start of 2019 Stokes now has four hundreds and an average of 55 coupled with 39 wickets at 28. That is, as Root says, greatness. And perhaps worrying for England’s opponents going forward, Root believes Stokes can get even better.
“There’s drive to get better. The sky is the limit. There’s no reason he can’t keep performing so consistently.”