England’s superhero Ben Stokes gives ultimate escapism in our time of need | Barney Ronay

Cricket’s obsession with the all-rounder can be jarring but he inspires a special fuzzy feeling while anxiety in real life reigns

Before starting I’d just like to say I respect and cherish Ben Stokes. I venerate Ben Stokes. I revere him to the correct degree and in accordance with approved norms and standards.

Let me make this clearer. Sometimes, while I’m thinking about how much I like Stokes, I’ll sit and watch his close-up TV highlights montages, then slow them down and watch them back, studying the way the droplets of moisture fall as he turns and yells and punches the air or looks soulful and defiant at second slip; until eventually it gets dark and the only light in the room comes from the clump of blue pixels that together form an image of Stokes, burning that outline into the air.

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