There has been a lot of talk about the irony of Ben Stokes, a man born in New Zealand, to a former All Blacks rugby player, taking his team to World Cup glory against the country of his birth. But now, that irony is going to get even more highlighted as the England all-rounder gets nominated for the New Zealander of the Year award alongside the man he denied the privilege of holding the World Cup trophy – Kane Williamson.
This sounds weird and, indeed, is! The chief judge for the award, Cameron Bennett, explained the decision to nominate him for this award thus: "(Stokes) might not have been playing for the Black Caps but, having been born in Christchurch where his parents now live and with Maori ancestry, there's clearly a few Kiwis about who think we can still claim him."
Bennett further added that, "He's (Stokes) been the embodiment of the qualities we cherish as New Zealanders - courage, fairness, humility."
Ben's father Gerard Stokes played international rugby for New Zealand. He moved to England when he got the opportunity to coach an English club. His son Ben was just 12 years old then and became so committed to playing cricket in the country that despite his parents moving back to New Zealand, he decided to stay in England and look to pursue his cricketing career in the English circuit.
Eventually, he made his appearance in county cricket in 2009 for the North English side of Durham. While his ODI debut came as early as 2011, he subsequently went out of the team. His return to England's international unit happened during the 2013-14 Ashes series in Australia where he was one player who stood tall amidst England's 5-0 decimation.
His hundred at Perth against a red-hot Mitchell Johnson turned him into a superstar and made him a regular member of the side. Since then, Stokes has been recognised as the best all-rounder in world cricket.