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Ben Stokes' staggering act for teammate after historic England triumph

Ben Stokes gave teenage star Rehan Ahmed a position at front and centre with the trophy in hand in what was a superb gesture from the England captain. Pic: Twitter
Ben Stokes gave teenage star Rehan Ahmed a position at front and centre with the trophy in hand in what was a superb gesture from the England captain. Pic: Twitter

Ben Stokes can seemingly do no wrong right now as England's fearless new Test cricket captain. Having just guided his side to a historic series whitewash in Pakistan, the talented allrounder solidified his burgeoning reputation with a selfless act that has been praised around the cricket world.

Stokes' men wrapped up an eight-wicket win in the third Test in Karachi to complete a 3-0 series sweep, in what was the first home whitewash suffered by Pakistan in Test history. In a Test match of stunning firsts, England's Rehan Ahmed also spun his way into the record books after becoming the youngest men's Test cricketer to claim a five-wicket haul in an innings on debut.

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Ahmed's stunning feat saw him break the previous record set by current Australia skipper Pat Cummins, who was 18 years and 193 days old when he took five against South Africa in 2011. It was perhaps fitting then that during the trophy presentation at the end of the series, Stokes was happy to take a back seat as Ahmed enjoyed his first big moment in the spotlight.

In an extraordinary gesture, Stokes gave the trophy to his young teammate, who was front and centre of the team photo in a position almost exclusively reserved for the captain of the side. Instead, Stokes gave the teenage star the honour of holding the silverware as he took up a spot in the back row for the photo.

It was a briliant gesture from the England skipper that will no doubt forever be cherished by Ahmed, who looks to have a very bright future in the sport - even if the lofty comparisons to the late, great Aussie leg-spinner Shane Warne are grossly premature. Stokes' selfless act also demonstrates the togetherness and team spirit that he has fostered in the England squad since taking over from Joe Root as England captain.

'BazBall' revolution continues for England

The 31-year-old had not been back long from a mental health break when he replaced Root in April. Stokes and England's new coach Brendon McCullum have earned plaudits from around the world for what experts have labelled 'BazBall' - a fearless approach to Test cricket that has captured the imagination of fans and was best highlighted by England's astonishing win over Pakistan in Rawalpindi.

Stokes' bold declaration, which left Pakistan needing 343 to win in four sessions, was rewarded with victory shortly before bad light threatened to end the first Test in a draw. McCullum and his skipper have created a new environment where players are encouraged to enjoy cricket and not fear failure, and their swashbuckling style is testament to that.

'BazBall' has been based on aggressive run-scoring that allows bowlers the time to get the 20 wickets needed to win a Test. McCullum has realised advances in limited overs run-scoring - on show in England's recent T20 World Cup win under white-ball coach Matthew Mott - can be applied to Test cricket.

Seen here, England captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum shake hands after clinching a series sweep against Pakistan with victory in the third Test
England captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum shake hands after clinching a series sweep against Pakistan with victory in the third Test. Pic: Getty (Matthew Lewis via Getty Images)

That expanded range of strokeplay, allied to classical shot-making, saw England become the first team to score 500 runs on the first day of a Test when Zak Crawley, rising stars Harry Brook and Ollie Pope, as well as Ben Duckett, all made hundreds in that Pakistan series opener in Rawalpindi.

England's willingness to defy their traditional conservatism was equally visible when 18-year-old spinner Ahmed claimed history in the third Test. As well as breaking Cummins' record, he also delivered the best figures by an England leg-spinner since 1959. His match figures of 7-137 were also the best of any England debutant since Peter Such's 8-145 against Australia in 1993.

Prior to this tour, England had won only two Tests in Pakistan and it was their first series win in the country since 2000-2001. The tourists, having restricted Pakistan to 216 in the second innings after Ahmed's historic five-wicket haul, comfortably chased a target of 167 to bring up their third straight victory in the series after wins in Rawalpindi and Multan.

with agencies

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