Sportsmen recall the rise of Cockermouth cricketer Ben Stokes
Last updated at 12:52, Friday, 27 September 2013
Cockermouth cricket star Ben Stokes was always destined for big things, according to his former coaches and teammates.
The 22-year-old all-rounder was called up this week to the England Ashes squad to tour Australia this winter.
Ben, a former Cockermouth School pupil, was born in New Zealand and moved to Cockermouth 10 years ago with his father Ged, a former Whitehaven and Workington Town rugby league coach, and mother Deborah, who worked at the Rising Sun Trust in Workington.
Ben has starred for newly crowned county champions Durham this season after graduating through its academy.
But his path to stardom was nurtured by teachers and coaches at Cockermouth School and Cockermouth Cricket Club.
He played for the Cockermouth club’s under-13, under-15, third and second teams, as well as representing Cumbria and England youth teams.
At the age of 15 he was called up to the Cockermouth first team and helped them to win the North Lancashire and Cumbria Cricket League in 2006.
Jon Gibson, 53, of School Lane, Bothel, coached Ben as a junior at Cockermouth Cricket Club.
He said he had been a shy 12-year-old when he first arrived but added that he was determined to become a better cricketer.
He said: “We are really proud of what he has achieved. We knew he was good, but we didn’t know he was going to be that good.
“He is the best player I have ever coached.”
Mark Bowen, 45, of Brigham Road, Cockermouth, played with Ben in the club’s first team. He said: “He was a very hard-working young man and that was the reason he got into the first team at 15.
“He played a very big part in us winning the league. We knew at that point he was going to go on to better things.”
Geoff Minshaw, club secretary, added: “Everyone in Cockermouth is delighted for him. The Ashes is the pinnacle of any cricketer’s dreams.”
Ben was also a key player for Cockermouth School and helped them achieve league and cup success.
Chris Hayes, head of PE at the school, said: “He was pretty much a typical boy. He was better on the field than in the classroom. He was a multi-talented sportsman. He has done himself and the county proud.”
Ben landed a contract with Durham County Cricket Club Academy in 2006.
He made a dream first team debut as a 17-year-old by bowling out former England star Mark Ramprakash.
His style of play has been likened to that of former all-rounder Freddie Flintoff.
Ben will fly to Australia for the Ashes series on October 24. There will be three warm-up games before the First Test in Brisbane on November 21.
Ben said: “It’s a dream come true. As a kid you dream of this happening. Everyone wants to play for England and I have been lucky enough to make it.
“To say I’m in the Ashes squad is just overwhelming and it will take time to sink in. Three or four weeks ago it was something I wasn’t even thinking of. Then I received a call from Geoff Miller and I must admit I was shocked when he told me I was in the squad.”
His mother Deborah, speaking from her New Zealand home, said: “We’ve had a lot of sleepless nights recently, listening to and watching Ben play for Durham and England. It’s all a bit surreal and we’re extremely proud of him.
“Ben called me on Skype and told me face-to-face that he’d missed out on the Lions tour to Australia. I felt a bit down but then he broke the news that he’d made the Ashes tour instead.
“We’re both on cloud nine!”
First published at 12:51, Friday, 27 September 2013
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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