Ben Stokes England World Cup
England's Ben Stokes, center, celebrates the catch of South Africa's Andile Phehlukwayo during the ICC Cricket World Cup group stage match between England and South Africa at The Oval, London, Thursday, May 30, 2019 Image Credit: AP

London: Ben Stokes’ stupendous catch to remove South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo is now the talk of the tournament. Many former cricketers have remarked that he is the 'Superman of cricket', and that his man of the match award should have been called Superman of the match award!

Stokes pulled off a one-handed catch from a shot played by Phehlukwayo off Adil Rashid. The ball was heading for a six but Stokes stopped the ball mid-air and caught it at the deep mid-wicket fence. As he completed his catch running back towards the boundary and leaping in the air, the whole stadium gave him a standing applause.

Stokes mixed freely with journalists after the post-match press conference, and that was a good opportunity to ask him more about the catch, which will be listed among the best catches of the tournament. “I was probably in the wrong position to start taking that catch. Had I been in the right place it would have been a regular catch. I think it's just one of those that either sticks or doesn’t.”

When asked whether he practices taking difficult catches, he quipped: “No, I don’t practice being in the wrong position (smiles). But we do train hard and try and catch those.... try and make best of those five percent chances (catches). And then when they come along, they’re maybe a little bit easier.”

So was this his best catch to date, or the one in Trent Bridge in 2015 against Australia? “That was against Australia. So that definitely higher up in my list,” he noted, revealing his rivalry with the Australians.

Does Stokes believe that it was a perfect day for him when everything went his way? “The best thing about being the all-rounder is that you can influence a game pretty much through the entire 100 overs. It’s nice when you are able to contribute towards a team winning. I think the most pleasing thing today is that we’ve got the first game out of the way and managed to perform like that. There were a few nerves around in the morning – definitely for me-, though not for a long time. But there’s been such a long build to this World Cup...nearly a year, and to finally get here; it feels great to walk away with a win.”

England skipper Eoin Morgan was asked about Stokes’ catch, he said: “Well, he misjudged it at the start. He ran in, stopped, and then I thought it was way over his head. And then the next sort of leap in that direction was amazing. I've seen a catch like that only from somebody like A.B. de Villiers before in an IPL game in Bangalore. Yeah, I don't know how to describe it. It's unbelievable.”

South Africa team skipper Faf Du Plessis too lauded Stokes’ catch: “He's a good cricketer, 3-1 cricketer, and that's why I said England is such a good team.”