Ben Stokes caps dream summer with PCA Players’ Player award

Ben Stokes played one of the all-time great Test innings at Headingley © Getty Images

Ben Stokes has capped off a dream season by being named the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) Players’ Player of the Year in recognition of his World Cup and Ashes heroics.

Nominated alongside Ryan Higgins, Dominic Sibley and Cricket Writers’ Club Player of the Year Simon Harmer, Stokes received the most votes from his peers to become the sixth player to have achieved the Young Player/Player’s Player double in their career, and the first man to win the trophy for their international performances since Andrew Flintoff in 2005.

There were also awards for Tom Banton, who was named Young Player of the Year, and Sophie Ecclestone, who retained her prize as Women’s Player of the Summer.

Stokes produced the two innings of the summer, hitting a crucial, unbeaten 84 to take the World Cup final to a super over and smiting 135 not out at Headingley to almost single-handedly drag England over the line in a one-wicket win in the third Ashes Test against Australia to level the series 1-1.

ALSO READ: Stokes takes top two spots in poll of cricket’s greatest performances

“It’s hard to put it into words,” said Stokes. “I am over the moon that players think I am worthy of winning the NatWest PCA Players’ Player of the Year through performances this summer.

“You can take a lot of personal pride when you receive this award because it’s your peers that vote for you. Earning this award is a huge moment and something I am very gracious of and I am sure the previous 49 winners are gracious of too.

“While this is an individual award, it is within a team sport so I am only in this position because of what other guys in our squad have achieved as well. What we have done as a team in 2019 is phenomenal, to win the World Cup and draw the Ashes has been a fantastic summer and something I am proud of personally and as a team.”

Banton, who turns 21 in November, enjoyed a remarkable breakout summer for Somerset, hitting 454 runs in their victorious One-Day Cup campaign before scoring 549 more in the Vitality Blast, a total bettered only by his opening partner Babar Azam.

ALSO READ: Banton lights up the Blast to attract T20 franchise interest

He beat Sibley, James Bracey, and Zak Crawley to the award – his second in two days after scooping the Cricket Writers’ Club prize on Tuesday – and is set to complete a fine week on Thursday when he will be unveiled as a ‘local icon’ player for the Cardiff-based Hundred team, before travelling to New Zealand as part of England’s T20 squad towards the end of the month.

“I am very grateful and thankful to those guys who voted for me,” Banton said. “I never expected it to be honest looking at the other nominees.

“If someone had told me the year I would’ve had at the start of the season I wouldn’t have believed them. I have altered some technical faults I had at the beginning of the year with Marcus Trescothick and he has helped me a lot this year and has made me believe I can go all the way.

“To have my name on the John Arlott Cup is a special feeling. As a youngster I’ve looked up to so many of the previous winners and tried to be like them. Some of these players are my idols so it’s nice to know they have won it before me. Also, these players are some of the very best so you never know what can happen, but if I keep working hard I could follow them.”

Ecclestone becomes the first player to retain the Women’s Player of the Summer award, having topped England’s wicket-taking charts in both the white-ball series against West Indies, and in the Ashes.

Sophie Ecclestone was England’s most prolific bowler throughout the 2019 summer © Getty Images

“I wish we’d played a bit better during the summer but it’s a really special feeling to be the first player to win it twice,” said Ecclestone.

“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.

“The highlight was definitely when we came back and won the last T20I. It was really nice to end on a high and show that we’re a team to be reckoned with at the T20 World Cup next year. The big goal is to get ready for that World Cup and show everyone what we’re all about.”

The awards ceremony at the Roundhouse in Camden also saw Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad named ODI and Test player of the summer respectively.

Simon Harmer, Saqib Mahmood, and D’Arcy Short won the player of the tournament awards for the County Championship, One-Day Cup and Vitality Blast respectively, while England’s white-ball captain Eoin Morgan won a ‘special award’.

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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