England all-rounder Ben Stokes is hoping to resurrect a stumbling England career after signing for Australian Big Bash League side the Melbourne Renegades for the second half of the season, replacing the injured New Zealander Jesse Ryder.
His first game for the Renegades looks set to be on 7th January when the Renegades take on the Hobart Hurricanes in Hobart.
This is a great opportunity for the young Durham all-rounder as he bids to develop his game in different conditions around the world.
One for the future
Stokes has already represented England in all three formats of the game and has been highlighted as a huge talent for the future by many onlookers. However, he has missed out on selection for the upcoming World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and must use that as a wake-up call for his international career.
A year ago Stokes was emerging from England’s disastrous tour of Australia as one of only a handful of players who had enhanced their reputations. He hit his maiden Test century in Australia at the WACA and took career best figures of 6-99 in the fifth Test at the SCG.
He ended the tour as the third highest run scorer and second highest wicket-taker. His in-your-face bullish attitude endeared him to the Australians but his eagerness to please and compete has also led to a bad habit of self-destruction, with instances of ill-discipline disrupting his career progression so far.
Stokes has previously been sent home from an England Lions tour due to drinking, arrested and cautioned for abusive behaviour and has also broke his own hand after hitting a locker in frustration at getting out. The latter of which resulted in him missing out on selection for the World Twenty20 tournament in Bangladesh last year.
Last summer Stokes also struggled in an England shirt finding runs hard to come by against the touring Indians. He was eventually dropped from the Test side after a run of poor scores and his bowling was not deemed good enough to keep him in the Test side for this alone.
Stokes was also selected for England’s tour of Sri Lanka prior to Christmas but again disappointed. Fellow all-rounder Chris Woakes looks to have overtaken him in the England pecking order and it is now up to the Durham man to prove he is the right man for England.
However, domestically, for Durham, Stokes produced some eye-catching displays last season. Most notably his performances in the Royal London One-Day Cup as he guided his side to victory at Lord's.
Stokes hit a blistering 164 from just 113 balls against Nottinghamshire in the semi-final and then, in a low-scoring final against Warwickshire, he produced figures of 2-25 and then an unbeaten 38 in tricky conditions.
Despite his ill-discipline and injuries, and consequent absences, Stokes does have the X-factor and if he can become more consistent, rather than being so extreme with his performances, then he will become a regular England player for many years to come in all formats of the game. He will use his time with the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash to try and start 2015 in the best possible way as 2015 looks set to be a big year for him.
It is now over to Stokes himself to see if he can fulfil what could be a very successful international career. Only he can fulfil the potential he has.