Chris Woakes hailed Ben Stokes’ World Cup final man of the match performance as full vindication for his second chance with England.
Stokes was found not guilty of affray in August 2018, apologised for his actions and worked his way back into the England set-up. He completed a personal redemption in a virtuoso display at Lord’s on Sunday.
Stokes’ unbeaten 84 dragged England to a tie with New Zealand after 50 overs; the two sides then tied a super over too, with the tournament hosts crowned champions courtesy of superior boundary count.
Warwickshire seamer Woakes paid tribute to Stokes for seizing his second chance with both hands, as England lifted the World Cup for the first time.
“I’m a big believer that people should be given second chances; you live and you learn in this life,” said Woakes, of Stokes.
“Ben’s always given 110 per cent on the field, he’s the best team man we have in this team, and we’ve got a lot of good ones.
“He puts in a shift every single day, he wants to be the best he can be, and today he was, and that’s brilliant to see.
“He has been through a tough 12 months or so, and for him to come out the other side is credit to him, because he’s put in some hard yards.
“He owned up to what he did, he also apologised to the group and things like that.
“And he copped a lot of stick. So for him to come out of the other side, and be a world champion and be man of the match in that game, is richly deserved.”
Stokes and Jos Buttler inched England home through the super over drama, the added over for each team acting as cricket’s equivalent of extra time.
Asked if Stokes’ match-winning turn crystallised his personal redemption, Woakes replied: “Yes, definitely. Ben’s a world-class cricketer and he’s delivered on the world-class stage on a number of occasions, but today will top it all.
“To get us as close as he did, his and Jos’ partnership was crucial.
“But to go about getting that score batting with the tail shows his quality.
“He’s the whole package, and he’s a top bloke as well so I’m delighted for him.”
Woakes bagged 16 wickets across a hugely-fruitful personal tournament, as pre-competition favourites England ground their way to their maiden triumph.
The 30-year-old admitted he will cherish his contribution as England battled through must-win group matches against India and New Zealand, before also starring in the knockout clashes to boot.
“This really is amazing, and I think the most pleasing thing for me is that I’ve performed in the last four games, which have been our most crucial ones,” said Woakes.
“You want to stand up in those big games and I’m pleased I’ve been able to deliver something for the team.
“My role is to get the team off to a good start, which thankfully I’ve been able to do.”
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