Ben Stokes was crowned 2019 Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday night after playing a leading role in England’s Cricket World Cup triumph in July. The 28-year-old, who was the outstanding favourite to win the BBC’s annual award, also hit one of the greatest Test innings of all time at Headingley during the drawn Ashes series with Australia six weeks later.
Sprinter Dina Asher-Smith finished third in the BBC’s public vote after winning three golds at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, and Lewis Hamilton came second after winning his sixth Formula One world title in impressive style.
Stokes was named man of the match in the World Cup final at Lord’s where he scored a blistering 84 not out, including two sixes in the final over of England’s innings to tie the game and force a Super Over. There he added more crucial runs as England eventually won courtesy of having hit more boundaries over the match than their opponents New Zealand.
That feat may have been enough to win the Sports Personality award on its own, but if anything Stokes surpassed it the following month at Headingley. England had been bowled out for 67 in the first innings of the third Ashes Test and faced near certain defeat, but Stokes hit an astonishing 135 not out to chase down a target of 359 and win the Test match, keeping the series alive.
Stokes’ achievements lifted him to the No2 all-rounder in the ICC’s Test rankings, although he has since falling back to No3, and to the No1 ranked all-rounder in One-Day Internationals.
The award caps a remarkable turnaround for both Stokes’ international career and personal reputation, which both came under severe scrutiny following his involvement in a street brawl in Bristol in September 2017. Stokes was acquitted following a criminal trial last year, but was charged for bringing the game into disrepute by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and was issued with a £30,000 fine and an eight-match suspension.
“Two years ago was obviously a tough time in my life, and I couldn’t have got through it without the help of some amazing people,” Stokes said at the ceremony in Aberdeen, before thanking his agent Neil Fairbrother for his support. “I don’t know how you’ve coped with first Freddie Flintoff and now me,” Stokes joked.
He also thanked his parents, who live in New Zealand, his two children and his wife Clare, who was in the audience. ”My family is more important to me than what I do for a living. Whether I get home from a good day to a bad day, you always pick me up.”
The team of the year award also went to England’s World Cup winning side, and the sporting moment of the year was awarded to batsman Jason Roy, who hit the winning runs.