Poll reveals top 50 England performances since first NatWest PCA Awards.

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England star Ben Stokes’ remarkable, match-winning innings against Australia at Headingley in August has topped a public poll of the 50 greatest performances by England cricketers in the last 50 years.

The success of the England team on the field has also led to cricket fans being more likely to follow or play the game, in particular women and 16 to 24-year-olds.

The survey of 1,004 England cricket fans carried out by Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) and NatWest* to mark the 50th anniversary of PCA Awards today (2 October), resulted in three of Stokes’ performances being named in the top 10. 

Sixty per cent of England fans placed Stokes’ heroics at Headingley – taking 3-56 and scoring 135 not out to seal an unbelievable win against Australia – in their top five England performances. 

His 84 not out against New Zealand at Lord’s in the dramatic ICC Cricket World Cup final came second in the poll after two fifths of England fans voted for it. And the England all-rounder’s double century against South Africa at Cape Town in 2016 was voted seventh, giving Stokes a hat-trick of entries in the top 10 greatest England performances since 1970. 

The top 10 England performances of the last 50 years

  1. Ben Stokes v Australia at Headingley, 2019
  2. Ben Stokes v New Zealand at Lord’s, 2019
  3. Andrew Flintoff v Australia at Edgbaston, 2005
  4. Ian Botham v Australia at Headingley, 1981
  5. Stuart Broad v Australia at Trent Bridge, 2015
  6. Alastair Cook v India at The Oval, 2018
  7. Ben Stokes v South Africa at Cape Town, 2016
  8. Bob Willis v Australia at Headingley, 1981
  9. James Anderson v India at The Oval, 2018
  10. Jos Buttler v Australia at Old Trafford, 2018

Speaking exclusively to PCA ahead of the NatWest PCA Awards, Ben Stokes gave an insight into his unforgettable Headingley innings. 

“When you are out there and trying to win the game you are in such a bubble you don’t let anything else get into that bubble. Obviously, you are aware of the atmosphere and the situation and the crowd but then when I eventually hit the winning runs it, the feelings I had, just went and it was ‘oh my god, this is incredible’.

“I was actually in the moment like everyone else was at that time, taking in the atmosphere, taking in the noise and looking around because everybody who was there in that ground on that day lived the same emotions as I did throughout that whole day, so to be able to take it all in and share that moment with them out there was pretty cool and something I’ll never forget.”

Stokes also reflected on the Cricket World Cup Final and the impact that this remarkable summer has had on English cricket: “It will be something I will look back at in 15-20 years’ time and truly understand and appreciate what those two occasions meant and what they did for cricket.

“We did not just want to win the World Cup and the Ashes this summer, we wanted to win over the country in terms of what we do with our cricket. We wanted to reach out to new fans, we wanted more people to take up cricket on what we could potentially achieve. We have won the World Cup and had a brilliant summer which is what we wanted but I am also 100% convinced we have created new fans, inspired the next generation of England players and got people watching cricket again to a bigger extent than any of us could have imagined.”

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Andrew Flintoff’s batting and bowling displays at Edgbaston in the 2005 Ashes earns him third place in the national survey, followed by Botham’s famous 149 not out against Australia at Headingley in 1981, ranked fourth. At number 5 is Stuart Broad and his jaw-dropping 8-15 bowling figures against Australia at Trent Bridge in 2015; his first of three entries in the top 50.

Alastair Cook, Bob Willis, James Anderson and Jos Buttler all make it into the top 10; but Kevin Pietersen just misses out with his first entry (227 v Australia at Adelaide in 2010) at number 13. However, Pietersen and Botham share the most entries overall (five each), followed by Broad, Cook and Stokes (three entries each) in the top 50. 

Anya Shrubsole is the highest placed England Woman: her six wickets against India at Lord’s in 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup final was voted the 20th greatest England performance. Her current England teammate Danielle Wyatt and former international Claire Taylor are also in the top 50 list at numbers 26 and 45 respectively.

PCA President Graham Gooch, whose record-breaking 333 at Lord’s against India in 1990 was voted 15th in the poll, said, “Great performances have the power to inspire. Ben’s performances at Lord’s and Headingley this summer were nothing short of inspirational. It’s fitting that, as we celebrate England and county cricketers at tonight’s 50th NatWest PCA Awards we take a moment to reflect on the greatest performances that have entertained and inspired us from the past half century.”

The NatWest PCA Awards is the most prestigious awards ceremony in English cricket with 12 honours presented and the three main accolades voted for by current professional players. This year sees the Association celebrate its 50th annual awards, taking place at the Roundhouse, London to celebrate a remarkable year. All proceeds from the night will be donated to the Professional Cricketers’ Trust.

Click here to find out more about the 50th NatWest PCA Awards ceremony.

*Opinion Matters surveyed 1,004 UK adults who are fans of the England cricket team between 23-26 September 2019 are fans of the England cricket team between 23-26 September 2019

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