Stokes scoops top honour at PCA awards

Ben Stokes feels he may have to wait until retirement before he can fully comprehend his phenomenal 2019 after being named players’ player of the year at the Professional Cricketers’ Association awards.

All-rounder Stokes played a starring role in England’s maiden World Cup win before repeating his heroics to help salvage an Ashes draw with Australia.

The 28-year-old Durham player was honoured for those achievements by scooping the Reg Hayter Cup ahead of fellow nominees Simon Harmer, Ryan Higgins and Dom Sibley.

Somerset’s Tom Banton picked up the PCA young player of the year, while England bowler Sophie Ecclestone collected the women’s player of the summer.

Speaking at the PCA awards ceremony in London, Stokes told the PA news agency: “It’s a proud moment to win the award. I think that is because it’s voted for by everyone else, the other players.

“In terms of reflection, I think there will come a time where I will be able to take it all in but I don’t think that will come until I retire really becomes it all comes so thick and fast. This will definitely be a summer that I will be able to look back on forever.”

Asked if it was the best year of his career to date, he replied: “Yeah, definitely.

“Winning the World Cup was an amazing feeling to be a part of – seven weeks of hard toil to then walk away with with the World Cup was brilliant, and then a great Ashes series to be part of.

Ben Stokes celebrates hitting the winning runs against Australia at Headingley
Ben Stokes celebrates hitting the winning runs against Australia at Headingley (Mike Egerton/PA)

“This will take some beating but hopefully it does happen.”

Stokes won the young player award in 2013 and becomes only the sixth player to collect the PCA’s top two male honours.

Having started the World Cup with an outstanding catch in the curtain-raiser against South Africa, his unbeaten 84 against New Zealand in the final was central to England winning the competition for the first time.

He followed that up with a sensational 135 not out against Australia at Headingley, a stand-out innings in an Ashes series where his 441 runs at an average of 55.12 was his team’s best aggregate total.

Despite Australia retaining the urn courtesy of a 2-2 series draw, Stokes’ herculean efforts in recent months mean he is the favourite with bookmakers to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

England captain Joe Root paid tribute to his team-mate, saying he was unsurprised by his performances during an unforgettable summer.

“He’s awesome, he really is. He’s a massive driving force of this team, one of the senior players across the board,” Root told PA.

“He works extremely hard behind the scenes at his own game, helps other lads around the dressing room.

“And I’m not one bit surprised by the success he’s had this year – I’ve seen it coming a long time off.

“I couldn’t be more delighted for him, a brilliant vice-captain, one of those players you want in the big moments in the big games.”

Young player of the year Banton has been included in England’s Twenty20 squad for the winter tour to New Zealand after amassing more than 1,000 runs across the two domestic limited-overs competitions.

Tom Banton
Tom Banton excelled in white-ball cricket for Somerset (Tim Goode/PA)

The 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, who won ahead of James Bracey, Zak Crawley and Sibley, began the season uncertain of his role at his club.

“If you’d told me at the beginning of the year that this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Banton told PA.

“It’s obviously a nice feeling.

“I think at the beginning of the year, I wasn’t entirely sure where I stood at Somerset, either white or red ball. I wasn’t sure if I was going to play, if I was going to be in the (second XI).”

Left-arm spinner Ecclestone scooped the female honour for the second successive year.

🏆 @Sophecc19

👏 NatWest Women's Player of the Summer.

🙌 The first ever player to win two NatWest Women’s Player of the Summer awards.#PCAawards50pic.twitter.com/4TPK0MWLHj

— PCA (@PCA) October 2, 2019

The 20-year-old was her country’s leading wicket-taker in the multi-format series against the West Indies with six scalps, while she had 13 victims in the unsuccessful Ashes campaign.

“I feel like I’m a bit more of a presence in the team now than I was last year, and I’ve enjoyed getting my point of view across,” she said.

“The big goal is to get ready for that World Cup and show everyone what we’re all about.”

Other award winners included ODI player of the summer Chris Woakes, Test player of the summer Stuart Broad, and County Championship player of the year Harmer.

– The 50th NatWest PCA Awards were held at the Roundhouse in Camden. The event, organised by the PCA in conjunction with the England and Wales Cricket Board, celebrates the highlights of the international and domestic season with all proceeds going to the players’ charity, the Professional Cricketers’ Trust.

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