Editor’s note: This article was published in January 2020, during England’s Test series in South Africa. Ben Stokes’ father Ged died on December 8 after a battle with brain cancer.

Ben Stokes was doing Ben Stokes things at Cape Town to power England to a famous win against South Africa on Tuesday.

In the second Test of the series, with the hosts defying the English bowling attack and fighting for a draw, Joe Root turned to Stokes as he often does. And the England all-rounder produced a stunning spell on a dead pitch, bending his back and generating serious pace, to pick up three wickets and take his side past the finish line.

That he had already played two crucial knocks in the match and picked up numerous blinders in the slip cordon just went on to highlight what a superstar allrounder he is.

But one moment caught the attention of fans world over after the match. The New Zealand-born cricketer posed with a folded middle finger after the match, raising intrigue over the gesture.

Turns out it is a tribute to his ailing father.

Ged Stokes moved to England with son Ben to work as a rugby coach but before that he was a player himself in Christchurch. But, to prolong his playing career and continue receiving a paycheck instead of sitting out with an operation, he had to have his finger amputated.

“A persistent problem with a digit that had been bent out of shape by numerous dislocations saw Stokes senior seek medical advice,” according to a report from 2015 in cricket.com.au. “The doctor told him to have an operation and take a significant time out of the game. Keen to continue playing and continue getting paid, Ged asked for another option. There was only one – amputation. He took it.”

The Guardian, corroborating the story about Ged Stokes and his finger, said that Ben Stokes folds his finger to hide the tip in order to remember the tough times his father went through as a rugby league player in the 1980s.

Ged Stokes fell ill ahead of the ongoing South Africa series and could not watch his son play despite travelling to South Africa, and the allrounder took time to think about him after his heroics.

“I always had my dad in the back of my mind and that took any injury worries or niggles out of my head,” Stokes is quoted as saying by the Guardian. “I was thinking that he came out here to watch me and unfortunately he’s not been able to, so there was a lot more in my efforts this game, doing it for him. I haven’t managed to speak to him yet but hopefully I’ve made him proud. I had a text off Mum but I haven’t read it yet.”

Stokes also won hearts when he was declared the player of the match but he said the award should go to rookie opener Dom Sibley instead, who scored a gritty century in England’s second innings.