England cricketer Ben Stokes has responded to his nomination for the New Zealander of the Year award, saying that while he is proud of his New Zealand heritage, it wouldn’t be right for him to accept the recognition as his loyalties now lie firmly with England.
The Christchurch-born all-rounder, who played a huge role in England’s narrow triumph over New Zealand in the World Cup final at Lord’s with an unbeaten 84*, was pencilled-in as a nominee after his heroics with the bat, but he has now gracefully turned down the possibility of bagging the award, asking that the country whole-heartedly vote for Black Caps captain Kane Williamson instead.
Stokes has proud New Zealand heritage, his father Gerard even having represented the country in Rugby League. But Stokes pointed out that ‘my life is firmly established in the UK – it has been since I was 12-years old’.
“I am flattered to be nominated for New Zealander of the Year,” Stokes said in a statement released on the website of the Phoenix Management Group. “I am proud of my New Zealand and Maori heritage but it would not sit right with me to be nominated for this prestigious award. There are people who deserve this recognition more and have done a lot more for the country of New Zealand.”
In a sweet and crisp statement, Stokes, who was awarded Player of the Match in the final, went on to talk up the credentials of New Zealand captain Williamson as a more worthy contender for the award.
“I feel the whole country should align their support to New Zealand captain Kane Williamson,” said Stokes. “He should be revered as a Kiwi legend. He led his team in this World Cup with distinction and honour.
“He was the player of the tournament and an inspirational leader of men. He shows humility and empathy to every situation and is an all-round good bloke. He typifies what it is to be a New Zealander. He would be a worthy recipient of this accolade. New Zealand, fully support him. He deserves it and gets my vote.”