In just his sixth Test, Jermaine Blackwood showed class in scoring a century against England all the way back in 2015.

Two and a half years later, Blackwood had been dropped, having never made the three-figure mark in another innings.

In those two and a half fairly barren years, nobody doubted Blackwood’s talent. But everybody doubted his temperament.

He seemed too willing to throw his wicket away. Now Blackwood is back with the West Indies squad and despite scoring a duck in the first practice game before his side again takes on the might of the English in England, the Jamaican swears by the changes he has made to his game.

“I want to add a little bit more to my game and bat time. I'm really pushing hard for that and I'm really putting the mental work as well in, to bat time, Blackwood has said.

Once I bat time, I will score runs

He has not played Test cricket for two and a half years but he says: “This opportunity has come out and I have to grab it with both hands. I have something to go out there and prove against all the best bowlers in the world, I want to score runs against them."

Back in 2015, on a final day North Sound pitch, Blackwood’s West Indies faced a first-innings total from England of 399 thanks in large part to Ian Bell’s 143, Joe Root’s 83 and Ben Stokes’ 79.

The West Indies would end up well short of that total, scoring 295 in their reply but Blackwood’s innings got them close and helped the hosts stay in the contest and eventually come out with a draw.

Uncharacteristically, Blackwood was measured in his approach to the innings, batting for more than five and a half hours and facing 220 deliveries for an unbeaten 112.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 46, Kraigg Brathwaite, 39, and Marlon Samuels, 33, were the only other batsmen who offered any resistance to a bowling attack that read James Anderson, 2-67, Stuart Broad, 2-67, Chris Jordan, 1-46 and James Tredwell, 4-47.

Despite the quality of the bowling attack, Blackwood was not troubled, navigating the bowlers with skill beyond his years. After all, this was just his sixth Test match.

It would take 14 boundaries and two sixes for Blackwood to bring up his tally, the most classy of which was a straight hit off the bowling of Stokes.

But the signs of Blackwood’s nature were there even in that innings. While he showed good patience for much of the innings, the day could have ended earlier, as Blackwood did have some fortune.

He was caught off a no-ball from Ben Stokes on 21 and dropped at slip on 43, granted that chance was tough.

He was also peppered with short balls and even hit on the forearm, but Blackwood would stay put throughout, emerging from long slumbers of defending to audacious moments of attack.

If only there were more moments like that when the diminutive Jamaican would find that which is most needed in Test cricket, balance. He says he understands what to do these days, let’s wait to see if there is more in him like he managed to pull out on those fateful first two days of Test cricket all the way back in 2015.

Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy has revealed that words uttered by all-rounder Ben Stokes had fired up batsman Marlon Samuels, who put on an outstanding display to help the team clinch the 2016 T20 World Cup.

Big hitter Carlos Brathwaite stole the spotlight with four straight sixes off the unfortunate Stokes in the final over, but at the other end, Samuels’ man-of-the-match 85 runs from 66 balls innings provided the backbone for the team.

According to Sammy, Samuels who came to the crease at 11 for 3 and with things looking grim for the Windies, revealed he had received added motivation.

“Marlon told us something, and maybe Root could confirm that when Marlon came in at 11-3. He came to bowl and he said something like ‘you guys, I would like to see you come out of this one’ and Marlon was just taking his time, making sure that comment, whatever he (Ben Stokes) said to him as he walked in, that got him really focused,” Sammy said in a recent interview with Sky Sports’ Cricket Watch in a segment that discussed the tournament.  England batsman Joe Root, the team’s vice-captain at the time, did not seem convinced Samuels was telling the truth.

“It would have been a good effort because Ben was at long-on, so I don’t know how that happened. He might have just made it up,” Root added.

Sticking to his guns, Sammy insisted that the event was quite possible.

“When he was bowling to him, Ben Stokes was bowling an over to him and he said something to Marlon during that time. Because Marlon told us about it. He was really pumped. If you notice, in the back end, Marlon said something to him after that. But it’s all cricket man.”

It is hard to believe Ben Stokes is only 28 years old. Already, he is shaping up to be the greatest allrounder England has ever produced. Stokes has had to show real character to get where he has, after two setbacks in his career that could have broken a lesser young man. Against the West Indies in the T20 World Cup in 2014, Stokes was the unfortunate bowler who Carlos Brathwaite took for four sixes on the trot to give the eventual champions an unlikely victory.

Then Stokes missed the 2017-18 Ashes because he was charged with ‘affray’ after a brawl at a Bristol nightclub. Stokes turned those two misfortunes around. In the first instance, winning the World Cup with England in remarkable fashion after scoring an unbeaten 84 before winning a super over in dramatic fashion.

He recovered from the setback of missing the Ashes England lost 4-0 by helping England thrash Sri Lanka 3-0 in a Test series months later. Stokes is involved in every aspect of what England does well. His combative personality along with undeniable skill make for comparisons with Ian Botham that are not unfounded. He averages 36.54 in Tests and has already scored more than 4,000 runs. Stokes has also racked up 147 wickets at an average of 32.68.

He registers as a fast-medium, but when he’s up he can be outright quick. When he’s batting he can go from stodgy defence when situations are tight to unleashing the most furious assaults on bowling attacks. Stokes for all intents is a man for all seasons.

Career Statistics

Full name: Benjamin Andrew Stokes

Born: June 4, 1991, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand

Major teams: England, Canterbury, Durham, Durham 2nd XI, England Development Programme Under-19s, England Lions, England Performance Programme, England Performance Programme XI, England Under-19s, Melbourne Renegades, Rajasthan Royals, Rising Pune Supergiant

Playing role: Allrounder

Batting style: Left-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm fast-medium

 

Test Career (Batting): England (2013-present)

Mat    Inns    NO      Runs    HS     Ave        BF      SR      100s    50s  

63       115       4       4056    258    36.54    6905    58.74       9       21  

Test Career (Bowling): England (2013-present)

Mat    Inns    Balls    Runs    Wkts   BBI     BBM     Ave    Econ   SR     4w     5w    10w

63       106     8683    4804     147     6/22    8/161   32.68   3.31   59.0     5       4       0

 

Career Highlights

  • Fastest 250 in Tests (196 balls)
  • Most runs in a Test innings at number six (258)
  • Most runs in 1st session of a Test (130)
  • 1 of 7 players to score over 4000 runs and take 100 wickets in Tests
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