Ben Stokes has humbly suggested that his stunning catch in the first one-day international win over South Africa was “a bit of a fluke”.
The all-rounder added yet another jaw-dropping moment to his ever-increasing highlight reel when he intercepted an AB de Villiers laser strike with one hand on the long-off boundary.
The world’s number one ranked batsman was left to watch on in shock – as too where everyone else inside the Mangaung Oval – as Stokes made considerable ground to his right before casually reeling the ball in with his right hand.
Two days later, and after the catch being repeated many times over on TV and social media, Stokes has admitted he probably made it look harder than it was.
Speaking to ecb.co.uk, the 24-year-old revealed that he had been caught out of position when De Villiers thrashed the ball down the ground and then, to compound matters, he misjudged the flight of the ball in the windy conditions.
“I was five or 10 yards off because AB had just come in and I didn’t want him to hit any twos to me,” Stokes said.
“Then I thought that I had completely misjudged it. I started running to start off with and then I had to start running back again and I don’t really remember much else.
“I just stuck my hand out and instinct took over. It was a good way to make an easy catch look hard.”
Stokes has of course already proved over the past 12 months that he instincts are more than reliable when it comes to pulling off impossible catches, most significantly when he claimed the catch at TrentBridge that prompted Stuart Broad’s iconic ‘hands-over-the-face’ Ashes moment.
“There’s a certain amount of instinct that goes into it,” he said.
“That was pure instinct the other day and the one at TrentBridge. I saw the line of it and knew where I had to be but as I said I over-ran it so I got that completely wrong. “Obviously there was a big wind, so that played into it. It was just a bit of a fluke in the end I think.”
Stokes’ reaction to his catch was priceless, running along the boundary line in celebration, and while his team-mates rushed to celebrate just as joyously they were also just as quick to remind him to listen to his skipper more closely.
“I got told that I should have been in the right position in the first place,” he said.
“It’s a good changing room at the moment. You can’t go anywhere or do anything without getting noticed – there’s always lads taking the mickey out of you.
“It’s working well in the changing-room.”
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) February 3, 2016
England batting line-up is dovetailing on the field too as they smashed yet more records in Bloemfontein.
Their score of 399 for nine was an England record on foreign soil – beating the 355 they scored in their last away ODI against Pakistan last November – while eight batsmen hit sixes for the first time ever in a 50-over international.
The stage was set by a flying start from openers Jason Roy and Alex hale, which allowed Eoin Morgan to promote Buttler up the order and unspire another big total with a 73-ball century.
“We’ve got J-Roy and Hales up top who are very, very destructive when they get going as they showed the other night,” Stokes said.
“In terms of our middle order we are very, very flexible. Jos got promoted up to four the other night because Morgy knew we had to get a big total and he needed to be in for as many balls as possible.
“It’s nice having four, five, six and even seven to be able to rotate and go in whenever.
“I guess that’s nice from a captain’s point of view and a coach’s point of view.
“We know that we can make big scores – 399 wasn’t a fluke. We put some big scores in during the summer.”
England started last summer by setting their highest-ever ODI total of 408 for nine against New Zealand at Edgbaston and Stokes believes they can break the 400-run barrier again before the end of this series, which continues with the second match in Port Elizabeth tomorrow.
“We were a little bit disappointed not to get to 400, but we’re not disappointed that we only fell one (run) short,” he said.
“If we can keep going the way we have done, the start is crucial, and we know that Halesy and J-Roy are going to give us a good start more than not.
“I think that 350 and 400 we will get again. If we have a night where Jos comes off again, remember Morgy didn’t really even come off the other night either so when he gets going you never know I think we should get over 400 if everyone contributes again.”