Former England batsman Pietersen has once again challenged the standard of bowling in English county cricket as England fans reveled in Stokes’ first innings since his appointment as captain
After missing the early part of the season with a knee injury, this was Stokes’ first game since taking over as England captain from Joe Root and he had a starring role at Grace Road with an inning of 161 from 88 balls.
Kevin Pietersen criticized the quality of the County Championship after Ben Stokes broke the record for the number of sixes in a first-class innings in England with 17 maximums in Durham’s Division Two game against Worcestershire
“We all know the absolute quality of Ben Stokes,” continued Pietersen Twitter, in response to a video of Joe Leach, Ed Barnard, Adam Finch, Ben Gibbon and Josh Baker bowling to the all-rounder. “But look at this bowling alley and please tell me county cricket doesn’t have to be a franchise?!”
The previous record of 16 sixes in an innings was shared by former Australia international Andrew Symonds (1995) and legendary Essex big-hitter Graham Napier (2008). It’s also the fifth highest number in a top-rated game worldwide.
Durham was already comfortable at 360-4 when Stokes got into the crease, but then he launched an all-out attack that totaled 25 boundaries (17 sixes and eight fours).
It will be a welcome first sign for England fans that his new role won’t affect his form. The all-rounder achieved his century in just 64 balls, beating the Durham record formerly held by Paul Collingwood, who went a ton under 75 balls against Somerset in 2005.
The 30-year-old was eventually caught by Jack Haynes at Deep Midwicket ahead of Brett D’Oliveira’s bowling.
By that point, the damage was done for Pietersen after watching Stokes hit five straight sixes in an over. He narrowly missed becoming the third player in first-class history to send every ball for six.
It was a particularly hot time for slow-moving left-hander Baker, who at the age of 18 is only playing in his eighth first-class game. The teenager was then, unsurprisingly, taken out of the attack.
It is not the first time that Pietersen, one of the leading proponents of franchise cricket and the Indian Premier League in particular during his own season, has called for a radical overhaul of the game in England, blaming the national team’s ongoing Testing problems with the quality of the district championship .
Durham eventually declared 580-6, further supported by Sean Dickson’s 104 and David Bedingham’s 135.
Stokes and Bedingham’s fifth wicket saw them add 220 runs and they reached their 100 partnership with four straight sixes. The New England captain ended his afternoon with a batting average of 182.95.
There was a less notable return for Root as he captained Yorkshire for the first time since retiring and spent the entire first day of their Division One game against Essex on the field, with his predecessor Sir Alastair Cook scoring 107.