WELLINGTON (Reuters) – After ripping the heart out of New Zealand’s bleary-eyed cricket fans on Sunday with a man-of-the-match performance in the Cricket World Cup final, England all-rounder Ben Stokes has now been nominated for the New Zealander of the Year award.
The 28-year-old Stokes was born in New Zealand but grew up in England when his father Gerard moved there to take a rugby league coaching job.
Stokes remained in England when his parents returned home and carved out a successful cricketing career, scoring 84 not out in the final that helped his side to their maiden 50-over World Cup title at Lord’s on Sunday.
His exploits in the final earned some early nominations for the awards, as did New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, local media reported on Friday.
“The way he (Williamson) conducted himself, not only in the face of such devastating disappointment at Lord’s but throughout the tournament, resonated powerfully with Kiwis from all walks of life,” the award’s chief judge Cameron Bennett told the New Zealand Herald on Friday.
“Interesting to see some character having a bob each way: we also received nominations for England’s … Ben Stokes.
“He might not have been playing for the Black Caps but, having been born in Christchurch, where his parents now live, and with Maori ancestry, there’s clearly a few Kiwis about who think we can still claim him.”
There was no immediate response from the awards organisers when contacted by Reuters.
Nominations for the award only opened on July 1 and close on Sept. 15. A shortlist is confirmed in December with the winner named next February.
The award is typically given to prominent members of the community with comedian Mike King, who has become a mental health and suicide prevention advocate, the most recent to receive the award.
The last sportsman to win it was former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw in 2016 after he led the side to their second successive Rugby World Cup title in late 2015.
(Writing by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)