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Ben Stokes' prodigious talent was clear from an early age, and he was just 18 when he signed a two-year contract with Durham in December 2009. A true allrounder, he had been quietly developing in the Durham Academy for some time and had already made his one-day debut for Durham that summer, snaring Mark Ramprakash with his third legal delivery in senior cricket. From there he enjoyed a productive time at the Under-19 World Cup, scoring a century against India, before registering a maiden fifty on his first-class debut for Durham in the pink-ball season opener against MCC.
Stokes clearly enjoyed his first full season of Championship cricket, notching up 740 runs at 46.25, but it was in 2011 that he really began to blossom. In April he took 6 for 68 and scored a brilliant hundred that included five sixes in an over against Hampshire, and just over a month later registered his maiden limited-overs ton, cracking 150 not out against Warwickshire in the Clydesdale Bank 40. A broken finger hindered his bowling, but he played for England Lions and was selected for his first full squad to face Ireland in Dublin.
Stokes was born in Christchurch, New Zealand and comes from a rich sporting pedigree with his father, Ged, playing international Rugby League for New Zealand.