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There are six candidates for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year Award and I would not quibble with any one of them if they were to be named the winner. Lewis Hamilton, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Dina Asher-Smith, Raheem Sterling and Alun Wyn Jones have inspired and amazed in the last 12 months.
The truth, though, is that I didn’t have to think too hard about whom I would vote for this year. Maybe it helps that I was at Lord’s in July to see him lead England to victory in one of the greatest games of cricket there has ever been. Maybe it helps that I saw the start of his momentous innings at Headingley six weeks later.
So even though the standard seems higher than ever, even though it seems strange that Hamilton, our greatest active sportsman, should be overlooked again, the choice still seemed easier this year. The bookmakers consider there to be little room for argument and I agree with them: my choice would be Ben Stokes.
Ben Stokes is one of six candidates for BBC Sports Personality of the Year, and he is favourite
He won the cricket World Cup for England, and had one of the best Ashes innings ever
There is no point trying to highlight shortcomings in the cases of the other men and women on the list because there aren’t any. But Stokes did things in a golden summer for English cricket, which, even in a year when Tiger Woods won the US Masters again, tested the boundaries of sport’s capacity to deliver drama and redemption.
Like Woods, Stokes stopped the sporting world last year. He stopped it in its tracks and made it gaze at him with slack jaw and bulging eyes and bitten nails and beating heart. He did it not once but twice.
If you weren’t at Lord’s on July 14 as your chest tightened and face grew pale with nerves, you wished you were there. If you
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