Houdini in a Helmet

Outside a club in Bristol the time is getting late;
They’ve beaten the West Indies so they’re out to celebrate.
Three beers, six vodkas, Jägerbombs – Ben’s had a busy night
And if a challenge comes his way he’s ready for a fight.
Two gay men being harassed; there’s threats, an ugly scene;
Ben Stokes and Alex Hales decide to intervene.
“Stokes was the main aggressor” a nearby policeman said;
The injuries were serious, it’s lucky no-one’s dead.
If you have watched the video it’s hard to see the sense
Of what Ben Stokes is offering – a plea of self defence.
But fortune smiles upon the brave and the jury all agree.
Ben Stokes has drawn his lucky card – GET OUT OF JAIL FREE.

Now it’s the World Cup final, New Zealand have been in.
Two hundred and forty-one they got; the run chase can begin.
It’s not a massive total but this game isn’t done
The Kiwi field’s a tightening noose, we work for every run.
England keep losing wickets and they still need fifteen
From one remaining over. Ben Stokes surveys the scene.
He knows exactly what he’ll do, refuse to give up hope.
A chance at deep midwicket but Boult steps on the rope.
Next ball, they take a scrambled two, Stokes dives across the floor
But the throw’s deflected off his bat and that’s another four.
Is this the way the story ends? It’s not the final page.
They’re run out on the second. Stokes kicks his bat in rage.
A tie. The super over for once comes into play
And by the tightest margin it ends up England’s day.
Man of the match? Ben Stokes, of course, so sing his praises loud:
84 runs from 98 balls, he’s knackered but he’s proud.
From such outrageous escapades mere mortals are debarred
But this is a magician for whom no trick’s too hard.

Fast forward then to Headingley where England face a rout.
They lost the first, and drew the next, the Ashes are in doubt.
Now they’re all out for 67, it can’t get any worse;
To think that Stokes could rescue us would surely be perverse.
The score is one four one for three, the target’s three five nine;
Joe Root is 64 not out and Stokes is next in line.
The slowest to double figures for twenty-five long years
As Stokes scores two from fifty balls, he’s Boycott, it appears.
Then next day Johnny Bairstow and a shining morning sun;
They score at six an over and the job will soon be done
But – don’t forget it’s England. The wickets start to fall.
It’s two six one for seven, we’ve got no chance at all.
Except, Ben Stokes is at the crease, and Ben Stokes likes to win;
Houdini in a helmet – let the miracles begin.
The final wicket partnership at fifty’s still not done
Jack Leach has played a blinder but he hasn’t scored a run.
Australia have their chances, they squander a review
Dropped catch, a fumbled run-out, there’s nothing they can do.
Eight sixes, at all angles, Stokes spreads the ball around,
Reverse sweep, as he’s stumbling, but still it clears the ground
And Jack Leach wipes his glasses, uncertain what he saw.
From forty-two despairing balls Stokes harvests seventy-four.
He’s given everything he’s got, defied the cricket gods
The Ashes are alive again. Once more, he beats the odds.
Such feats defy prediction, against the run of play,
Just as defeat is closing in – Shazam! He gets away.  
There is in him a force denied to ordinary blokes
In this uncertain summer we’re glad we’ve got Ben Stokes.