Ben Stokes needs cherishing - not having his name dragged through the mud

How he should be remembered - Ben Stokes wins the third Ashes Test at Headingley.
How he should be remembered - Ben Stokes wins the third Ashes Test at Headingley.
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HEADINGLEY cricket ground looked glorious on Tuesday in the soft September sunshine.

READ MORE - Ben Stokes hits back at national newspaper
The blue seats of the West Stand were deserted - the stand is not open for Championship cricket - but otherwise it looked exactly as it did a little over three weeks ago when Ben Stokes won the third Ashes Test on a sun-swept Sunday and carved his name into sporting legend.

Ben Stokes takes the acclaim of the Headingley faithful.

Ben Stokes takes the acclaim of the Headingley faithful.

On a day when The Sun newspaper chose to sully that legend, badly misjudging the mood of the nation by publicising a painful tragedy in Stokes’s family before he was born, it was easy to picture again that stand rising in acclaim to Stokes as he struck Australia’s Pat Cummins for the winning boundary.

You might have seen the footage on social media; the fans go up as one as Stokes flays the ball to the East Stand rope before raising aloft his arms in triumph, the scene memorably captured in glorious slow motion.

To every cricket fan in England, Stokes is a hero, just as he is to the players of Yorkshire, Kent, and everyone present at Headingley on Tuesday.

There seems no point dredging up a terrible story from his family's past, one which this column has no intention of regurgitating, and which discredits the vast majority of those journalists who work hard to stay on the right side of the sometimes fine line between public interest and basic human decency.

Stokes’s feelings were summed up in a tweet which left no one in any doubt as to how cut up he is feeling about this subject.

It seems a poor way indeed to treat someone who has given so much to the country this summer.

Stokes has worked hard to turn his life around after Bristol, when The Sun published a video of him brawling in the street, and he is a role model of which England can now be proud.

We should not be careless with our heroes but instead cherish them and celebrate them for all they are worth.