Ben Stokes' Headingley hundred voted best England performance in last 50 years
PCA survey also shows England's success has led to fans more likely to follow or play the game, particularly women and younger people
Last Updated: 02/10/19 6:11pm
Ben Stokes' remarkable, match-winning innings against Australia at Headingley in August has topped a public poll of the 50 greatest performances by England cricketers in the last 50 years.
The success of the England team on the field has also led to cricket fans being more likely to follow or play the game, in particular women and 16 to 24-year-olds, according to a survey carried out by the Professional Cricketers' Association.
The survey of 1,004 England cricket fans was carried out by the PCA and sponsors NatWest to mark the 50th anniversary of the PCA Awards, and resulted in three of Stokes' performances being named in the top 10.
Stokes' heroics in the third Ashes Test at Headingley - taking 3-56 and scoring 135 not out to seal an incredibly one-wicket win - was voted the crowning display of the last 50 years.
Only weeks earlier, Stokes had underpinned England's triumphant World Cup campaign with an unbeaten 84 in the nerve-shredding final against New Zealand, an innings which took second place on the list.
Stokes said: "It will be something I will look back at in 15-20 years' time and truly understand and appreciate what those two occasions meant and what they did for cricket.
"We did not just want to win the World Cup and the Ashes this summer, we wanted to win over the country in terms of what we do with our cricket.
"We wanted to reach out to new fans, we wanted more people to take up cricket on what we could potentially achieve.
"We have won the World Cup and had a brilliant summer which is what we wanted but I am also 100 per cent convinced we have created new fans, inspired the next generation of England players and got people watching cricket again to a bigger extent than any of us could have imagined."
Results of the PCA's survey suggest as much, with England's Cricket World Cup success and drawn Ashes Series having a positive effect on the public's attitude towards cricket, in particular among women and young adults:
- Over half of female respondents (54%) said they now watch cricket more on TV or listen to it on the radio as a result; compared to two fifths (41%) of men.
- Nearly half of women surveyed (46%) say they are more likely to go to a cricket match.
- This increases to 54% among 16 to 24-year olds who also show a greater interest in playing the sport.
- Over a third of young adults (36%) say they now want to play cricket more than in the past; the most of any other age group polled.
England's World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan supported the research, declaring Stokes' Headingley performance his top moment from the last 50 years.
"At Headingley, Ben Stokes became a legend," Morgan said. "His performance with the bat supersedes any performance that I've ever seen in an England shirt.
"Every attribute that you need to play a Test Match innings, he displayed at Headingley and it was an absolute privilege to watch."
Andrew Flintoff's batting and bowling displays at Edgbaston in the 2005 Ashes earned him third place in the national survey, followed by Sir Ian Botham's famous 149 not out against Australia at Headingley in 1981, ranked fourth.
At number five, Stuart Broad and his jaw-dropping 8-15 bowling figures against Australia at Trent Bridge in 2015 features; his first of three entries in the top 50.
Anya Shrubsole is the highest placed England Woman: her six wickets against India at Lord's in 2017 ICC Women's World Cup final was voted the 20th greatest England performance. England team-mate Danielle Wyatt and former international Claire Taylor are also in the top 50 list at numbers 26 and 45, respectively.
Sir Alastair Cook, Bob Willis, James Anderson and Jos Buttler all make it into the top 10; but Kevin Pietersen just misses out with his first entry - his 227 versus Australia at Adelaide in 2010 - coming in at number 13.
However, Pietersen and Botham share the most entries overall (five each), followed by Broad, Cook and Stokes (three entries each) in the top 50.
Here is the top 10 greatest England performances from the past 50 years:
- Ben Stokes: 3-56 & 135 not out v Australia at Headingley in 2019
- Ben Stokes: 84 not out v New Zealand at Lord's in 2019 ICC World Cup Final
- Andrew Flintoff: 68, 3-52, 73 & 4-79 v Australia at Edgbaston in 2005
- Ian Botham: 149 not out v Australia at Headingley in 1981
- Stuart Broad: 8-15 v Australia at Trent Bridge in 2015
- Alastair Cook: 71 & 147 v India at The Oval in 2018
- Ben Stokes: 258 v South Africa at Cape Town in 2016
- Bob Willis: 8-43 v Australia at Headingley in 1981
- James Anderson: 2-54 & 3-45 v India at The Oval in 2018
- Jos Buttler: 110 not out v Australia at Old Trafford in 2018