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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Ben Stokes is not the Messiah

The England cricket team beat Australia in the third Ashes Test to keep hopes alive of a series win.

This victory followed two nail-biting defeats and offered some vindication to the style of cricket played by the team since Ben Stokes took over as captain.

Labelled ‘Bazball’ after the head coach, Brendon McCullum, a key feature is to care less about the results and more about freeing the team to play naturally and from the pressure to perform.

This is hugely popular when they win but invites criticism when they lose. And after two Tests lost by narrow margins, brave choices started to look more like carelessness. It’s all very well having fun, but this is the archrivalry with the Australians. The trophy was literally burnt, feelings run that high.

But England’s tactics have still been to score fast, giving plenty of time to bowl the opposition out, and to set attacking fields even if it means leaking runs.

Yes, they lose, but they also win. And at the heart of the transformation has been a change in leadership.

There have been enough scandals in recent years to understand why people are suspicious of leadership, or shy away from it. It has been mishandled, and any prestige it might confer doesn’t seem worth the cost. But as the England cricket team shows, leadership matters. Leaders empower others, demonstrate trust, and pick up the pieces when things go wrong.

Throughout the Bible we see leaders making a transformational impact on their situation, whether that’s Moses leading Israel through the Red Sea, Daniel standing up to the King, or Jesus modelling leadership throughout his earthly ministry.

Ben Stokes is not the Messiah, and in the past he’s been quite a naughty boy. He has a habit of coming to the team’s rescue, though his heroics aren’t always enough. But good leadership isn’t about perfection. It’s not about a leader doing everything so you don’t have to.

Instead, great leaders provide clarity of purpose and empower people to join in. That’s what we’ve seen with the cricket, and it’s what we often see missing when leadership goes wrong. How might this affect how you lead on your frontline?

Leadership is also about following. When Jesus called the disciples to follow him, he gave them a purpose and demonstrated how they were to live. How does following the true Messiah give you clarity and purpose in all you do?

Danny Webster
Director of Advocacy, Evangelical Alliance


  1. There are simple gold nuggets in here. Thank you.

    By Neville Hilton  -  14 Jul 2023
  2. John, Chapter 16

    13. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

    14. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.

    15. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.

    By C.gopal  -  14 Jul 2023
  3. Are you (self-)aware enough to realise the vanishingly small number of people out there who will have any idea at all of that from this article speaks, even amongst those of recent English derivation or connection? Except perhaps at the level of any abstract sport (choose your own specific team sport) metaphor for life …

    By M  -  14 Jul 2023
    • I know next to nothing about cricket but I understood and appreciated Danny’s helpful article.

      By Martin Tiller  -  14 Jul 2023
  4. As a cricket-loving follower of Jesus, every word of this article resonates with me.
    The self-named Barmy Army sing ‘Jerusalem’, too, though I suspect that rather than the Spirit this may have much to do with lager.
    Still, the idea of Jerusalem in Enand’s green and pleasant land – and Scotland, Wales, Ireland and all others besides – is in keeping with our captain’s commission for the team of which he has called us to be part.
    Spiritual ‘Bazball’ against which the gates of he’ll will not prevail.

    By Niall Crozier  -  15 Jul 2023

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