Image Credit- BBC
To celebrate International Men’s Week, The Gryphon takes a look at who is the most influential British sportsman of 2019.
The Cricket World Cup, the Rugby World Cup, the extremely tight title race in the Premier League: these are just a few of the important sporting events that have occurred in 2019.
With International Men’s Day falling on the 19thNovember, and with Sports Personality of the Year happening shortly after, the question ‘who has been the most influential sportsman of the year’ is certainly up for debate.
Clearly, one of the most important sportsmen when reflecting on events in the Summer is English Hero, Ben Stokes. The talented cricketer not only contributed to England’s World Cup win over New Zealand, but also single-handedly kept England’s Ashes hopes alive in the Summer, by scoring an unbeaten 135 whilst 9 wickets down.
His talent has been described as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘historic’, by his teammates and pundits. This comes as no surprise as Stokes kept his composure during the tense ‘Super-Over’ during the World Cup, where both teams had 6 balls to score as many runs as possible due to the sides drawing after 50 overs.
Not only was this a test of talent, with Stokes expected to frequently hit the boundary, but a test of mentality, with the batsman under intense pressure. His calm composure therefore earns him the title of ‘Sportsman of the Year’, with the Bookmakers odds of him winning Sports Personality at an extremely likely 5/1.
However, it can be argued that on an International Scale, Australian cricketer Steve Smith deserves recognition. Many hold the viewpoint that in the Ashes, he was the most influential player of the series, with his average run score across four tests (he missed one through injury) being 110. The frustration seen from the English team every time Smith came to bat shows his dominance on the cricket pitch, with England finding it almost impossible to get him out.
In fact, his run score totalled 774, which has only happened 9 times since 1990. His stamp in the history books after coming back from the Australian cheating scandal in 2018 showcases his utter grit and determination, which not only makes him worthy of recognition on International Men’s Day 2019, but for many years to come.
When looking at sporting stages other than the cricket pitch, the extremely close title race between Liverpool and Man City deserves attention. On the final day of the season, Liverpool could do no more but hope their Manchester rivals lost their game against Brighton, in a bid to clench the Premier League Title. However with Man City winning the game, it showed their ongoing dominance of English football under manager Pep Guardiola.
Perhaps one of the main reasons why City were able to clinch the title was due to arguably the most talented English footballer currently playing in the Premier League, Raheem Sterling. During the 2018/19 campaign, Sterling scored 17 goals in 34 matches, with 10 assists also to his name. Not only this, but the City starlet has dealt with immense amounts of criticism, both on and off the pitch, with racist chants being directed towards him.
Again, like Stokes and Smith, Sterling showcases that being a great sportsman is based upon the strong mentality they have, and their ability to perform when under pressure. With him essentially ‘silencing’ all that oppose him by scoring goals for both Man City and his home nation, critics now have no choice but to admire him and his skills on the pitch.
Furthermore, another key figure that will hit the headlines during International Men’s week is Lewis Hamilton, who sealed his sixth title last week in the United States Grand Prix. With his fellow drivers such as Max Verstappen claiming that Hamilton’s dominance is getting ‘boring’, it proves that the most successful British driver in Formula One history is miles ahead of his competitors, as he’s now won four of the last five championships. This puts him in great stead to secure the Sports Personality of the Year Award, with odds at 20/1.
Personally, I believe Stokes has had the greatest impact in 2019, therefore earning him the most recognition as we embark upon International Men’s week.
The ability to produce two of the most memorising innings English cricket has ever seen, within a few months of each other, and under such intense pressure, demonstrates his capabilities of a sportsman, and will be remembered in future Cricket World Cups and Ashes tests for many years to come.