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All-rounder Ben Stokes is a “freak cricketer” who can be an England match-winner for years to come, according to former captain Michael Vaughan.
Stokes, 26, produced a Test-best 6-22 as West Indies were all out for 123 on day one of the deciding Test at Lord’s.
The hosts stumbled to 46-4 by the close, with Stokes 13 not out.
Vaughan, speaking on BBC Test Match Special, said the Durham player is a “very, very special cricketer” who is capable of producing “magic”.
Stokes has taken 95 wickets in his 39 Test matches, as well as hitting six hundreds and 11 fifties.
Vaughan said: “England have got a freak cricketer. They are very fortunate to have him because he will win games of cricket in every format for years to come.
“He might even win this match.”
Stokes took his six wickets in a superb 14.3-over spell of swing bowling either side of tea, after the tourists opted to bat in overcast conditions.
He then teamed up with Dawid Malan to steady England after they had slumped to 24-4 inside 15 overs.
“He came out and batted and looked better than any of the top five,” said Vaughan. “He looked in control and played a beautiful drive through extra cover.
“Not only is he important with bat and ball, but also his body language and his commitment to the team. He’s a real team player and his training ethic, the approach he takes to practice, is so important for the rest of the team.
“He’s a bit of a Jack the lad, he likes a laugh like his fellow all-rounders Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff., But when he’s training in the nets, he hits more balls than anyone else.
“Clearly he has a gene inside him that makes it very natural to play cricket but it’s the hard work that allows him to produce these performances that we’ve seen throughout pretty much the whole summer.”
Vaughan added Stokes would need to have “a special series” for England to win the Ashes series in Australia this winter.
Stokes said the conditions at Lord’s had been “great to bowl in” and he had not been surprised to see the ball swing, as it had done so in the warm-up.
“Sometimes the more I bowl the less tired I feel,” he said. “Once I get past four of five overs I feel in really good rhythm. Knowing the ball would swing obviously helped that.”
When he took his fifth wicket, Stokes acknowledged England bowling coach Ottis Gibson, who will take over as South Africa coach after this match.
“I wanted to say thanks,” Stokes said. “It’s been a hard six or seen weeks with the bowling, I haven’t felt I’ve done the team justice. He’s put in hours and hours with me.”
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