Matt Stokes

During Guernsey v Jersey cricket Inter-Insular 2015 at Rovers Sports Club Port Soif Vale Guernsey Guernsey retained the Odey Inter-Insular Cricket Trophy.

Matt Stokes            Guernseysportsphotography

MATT STOKES burst onto the cricket scene as a junior and soon became established in the senior squad. In 2015 he came within 12 runs of joining a very elite band of cricketers to score two inter-collegiate centuries in the same season. Stokes, who hit a match-winning 108 not out and took five wickets in Elizabeth’s eight-wicket win over Victoria in Jersey, again found runs in the the return game at the College Field. His 88 was the backbone of an impressive 263 for seven in the allotted 45 overs. Victoria, without their injured senior island batsman Jonty Jenner, were dismissed for 156.

He first played for the senior team in 2014 but was named the inter-insular man-of-the-match in the 2015 game at Rovers Sports Club at Port Soif in the Vale, with a classy 86 as Guernsey won by five wickets for their first success in four years.He capped a brilliant summer by being named as Guernsey Cricket’s player-of-the-year at the annual awards presentation. After picking up the accolade in 2014, the all-rounder, who only turned 20 this month, retained his crown after a successful last few weeks for the senior island side, who won promotion from World Cricket League Division Six after defeating Jersey in the inter-insular.Just a couple of weeks later he shone again in Essex, where he was the tournament’s top run scorer with 241 in five innings at an average in excess of 60. That included a brilliant 135 not out against Botswana.

Matt is the first cricketer to win the Guernsey Press Sports Performance of the Year award. First presented in 2002, most of the island’s icons of the ‘noughties’ have been awarded the trophy, which in recent times has been chosen on the basis of the outstanding effort(s) on domestic or UK soil by those other than the Sarnian elite and cannot be classed as professional. Snooker player Martyn Desperques won it 2014 and this year the cricket all-rounder was a unanimous choice of the sports department for his superb domestic season, which culminated with a match-winning innings in the inter-insular against Jersey. The Caesareans had won the previous three inter-island games and arrived at the home of Rovers confident of making it four. But they were stunned by a terrific Guernsey performance, not least by Stokes whose masterful 86 followed a top-notch bowling performance earlier, conceding just 11 runs from eight pinpoint overs with the new ball. He was rewarded with just one wicket, but his spell put the visitors on the back foot from early on. But his season was not all about one performance. Through the summer the Old Elizabethan, who had previously played throughout the island hockey team’s stunning run to the final of the EH Trophy final, was weighing in with big runs and telling spells of seam bowling. He scored another century in the ICC World Cricket League Six tournament, playing a vital role as Guernsey won promotion. Against Botswana he carried his bat for a typically classy 135 not out, his second big ‘ton’ of the summer, having scored an undefeated 120 in guiding St Cross Symondians to victory in the Southern Electric Premier League. On that day the 19-year-old all-rounder faced 174 balls and stroked 12 boundaries in his well-compiled knock against Sarisbury. It was these sort of quality performance that earned him a game for the Hampshire 2nd XI at their home ground the Ageas Bowl. Sadly, the game against the touring New Zealanders was badly affected by rain and he did not get the chance to impress. Stokes is a major reason why Guernsey cricket believe their ‘national’ team has exciting times ahead and what makes his efforts even more impressive is that he goes about his sport in a quiet, unassuming manner.

Guernsey Press Jan 2016  by Matt Lihou

A MONTH-LONG training camp in South Africa will help to provide the platform for what Matt Stokes hopes will be a 2016 season laden with Hampshire appearances. Speaking after being awarded the Guernsey Press’ Sporting Achievement Award for his performances in 2015, the 19-year-old all-rounder is pleased with his efforts so far. But now, he has the opportunity – starting next week – to travel to Durban along with four other talented Hampshire youngsters for a training camp being run by the county’s head coach, Dale Benkenstein.

With his big aim for the upcoming summer being to feature regularly for Hampshire’s 2nd XI, the teenager admits this is a massive opportunity for him. ‘This is a big winter for me ahead of the 2016 season that I am really excited about and this is fantastic for my preparations ahead of that. ‘My longer-term aim is that this time next year I am looking at being in contention to be offered a professional contract at Hampshire ahead of the 2017 season. ‘However, the only way that I will possibly do that is by scoring big runs, taking big wickets and contributing every time I get the chance to play for the 2nd XI – performances are the only thing that matter.’ Quality performances are something that Stokes was certainly not short of during a superb 2015 season. After cementing his spot in Guernsey’s first team opening the batting, he scored an unbeaten 135 against Suriname in helping to earn promotion from World Cricket League Division Six. He also scored a century in averaging over 40 across the entirety of the Southern Electric Premier League season for his UK side St Cross Symondians, who he will continue to play for next summer. But his crowning glory came in being named as man-of-the-match in Guernsey’s inter-insular success over Jersey, where he scored a classy 86 to successfully guide the run chase. ‘I had a few performances that I was pleased about and my aim throughout the year was to average in excess of 50 for Guernsey, which I was able to do,’ continued Stokes. ‘But the 86 in the inter-insular was definitely the highlight of my career so far, to produce in a big game against Jersey when not too many people expected us to win, was fantastic. ‘The key now is for me to continue to strengthen up so that my performances don’t drop with the ball when I am needed to bowl 10 overs if I have already batted for a long period.’