Chris Woakes hailed Ben Stokes as “superhuman” after the England batsman’s record-breaking 182 against New Zealand sent out a warning to its title rivals ahead of the World Cup.
Stokes smashed England’s highest-ever one-day international score on Wednesday in just his third innings since ending his year-long retirement from the format.
With England’s 50-over World Cup defence starting in less than three weeks, it was a perfect way for the man who carried them to victory in the 2019 final to show he remains a match-winning force in the white-ball game.
England’s Test captain demolished New Zealand with nine sixes and 15 fours to inspire an 181-run victory ahead of Friday’s series finale at Lord’s.
“We obviously see Ben as this superhuman that can do incredible things. We know he can,” Woakes said.
“It was great for the group and brilliant for Ben too. He’s an unbelievable cricketer but coming back into the team having retired, it will do his confidence a world of good.
“We always have doubts and performance anxieties at the best of times, so it’s great for his confidence and great for the team’s confidence and belief that we can post huge scores.
“It was amazing to be here and play in the game because that was an incredible knock.
“He struck it cleaner than anyone else out there. It just shows how good a player he is.”
Since walking away from 50-over cricket last year citing workload issues, Stokes has revitalised England’s Test team alongside coach Brendon McCullum.
The dramatic fightback to draw the Ashes series against Australia earlier this year provided another showcase for his qualities as an inspirational leader.
But Woakes feels that stepping back into the ranks under Jos Buttler’s ODI captaincy and operating as a specialist batter rather than an all-action all-rounder, is a good thing for Stokes.
“I think him coming back into this team is probably a refreshing feeling for him, without the captaincy on his shoulders. To run the England Test team is a tough job,” he said.
“He’s probably seen this as a breath of fresh air, to play his natural game and be his natural person, which he always does.
“This group of players who have been around this team for a long time, always feel comfortable when we come back together.”