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The inside story of the worst over of Ben Stokes' career 

Ben Stokes reacts to defeat to West Indies
Carlos Brathwaite smashed four sixes off Ben Stokes to win the 2016 World T20 Cup Credit: AFP

In the second extract from their new book 'Cricket 2.0: Inside the T20 Revolution', Tim Wigmore and Freddie Wilde relive the last over of the 2016 World T20 final when Carlos Brathwaite put Ben Stokes to the sword to win the title for West Indies.

  • First extract: The innings that changed cricket forever

In the cauldron of a steamy Eden Gardens, the final of the 2016 T20 World Cup oscillated as wildly as a classic Test match. It would culminate with England having 19 runs to defend from the final over, entrusted to regular death bowler Ben Stokes.

Stokes would be bowling to Carlos Brathwaite. The West Indies side was brimming with established T20 superstars, but Brathwaite was not among them. He was only in the West Indies’s World Cup squad as a replacement player. When he arrived at the crease in Kolkata, he did so with the sum total of 25 international T20 runs in his entire career, and many guffawing at his new £420,000 IPL contract. 

Brathwaite had reached 10 by the time of the final over, when England captain Eoin Morgan helped Stokes plan his approach. "We are standing at the end of Stokes’s mark talking about the three balls that he can bowl," Morgan recalled. "So with the field that was set he could bowl a straight yorker, wide slower ball or a bouncer. And he bowled really well at the death throughout the whole tournament and he went to start with a yorker."

As he prepared to face the final over, Brathwaite "was numb. It was a state that I’ve only reached a couple times since... I had a clear mindset, I just watched the ball and allowed my instincts to react."

Stokes missed his first yorker by a fair way, and Brathwaite swatted it over the fine leg boundary for six.

Stokes was inconsolable after the defeat Credit: Getty images

"It can happen to any bowler," Morgan said. "So once that happens, we are at the end of his mark and we talk about what he is going to bowl next and you can always tell a bowler is in the right space when he says, no, that’s my fault I need to get it right. I’ll go again. And that’s nice and you run away and watch again.

"And the second ball wasn’t that bad a ball, it was a great shot." Stokes had missed his yorker again, but only fractionally this time and Brathwaite – with a perfect swing of the bat – dispatched it over wide long on for six. ‘And then you meet before the third and then it’s 12 off two and so they need seven off four. So it was a matter of trying to take a wicket then so we took his length back and went into the wicket. And that didn’t work out and he hit it out of the ground again."

With the West Indies’ analysts, Brathwaite had been planning for this moment for weeks, going back to before the opening group match with England. "We knew Ben Stokes and Chris Jordan bowled very good yorkers – sometimes straight, sometimes wide – and in that situation it was about repeating that again. So I knew the long boundary was to the leg side, and if he did bowl a yorker it would be straight, or the plan would be into the wicket." 

These were the same deliveries that Morgan identified that Stokes could bowl. Brathwaite was ready and waiting: brilliant hitting meshed with brilliant planning.

A millimetre too short here; a millimetre too wide there. It was enough for Brathwaite to plunder four imperious strokes that were beautiful in their brutality.

Three of the four sixes smoked off Brathwaite’s bat were to the leg side. Deliberately targeting the longer boundary: it was a novel approach that epitomised the audacity of the West Indies’ T20 cricket. 

Tim Wigmore & Freddie Wilde 2019. From Cricket 2.0: Inside the T20 Revolution (Polaris £17.99). To order, call 0844 871 1514 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk.