Ben Stokes made a name for himself at the World Cup, and the 28-year-old was up to his old tricks as he hit a stunning 135 not out, handing England one of their all-time most significant victories.
Thanks to Stokes, England’s Ashes hopes are well and truly alive, and this could very well be the turning point for the Three Lions.
England needed Stokes to step up during the memorable super-over against New Zealand, and they needed him again at Headingly. Stokes, who is now odds on to be named Sports Personality of the Year, played out incredible Test innings, one that will undoubtedly live long in the memory, with the Ashes series now all square at 1-1.
Chasing down a record 359, it seemed an impossible task, with most people having accepted the Ashes would be heading back with Australia. However, after reducing the deficit, when last man Jack Leach joined Stokes England only needed 73. The all-rounder launched a solo attack, one which will undoubtedly go down in cricketing history.
Scoring At Will
Stokes began by planting off-spinner Nathan Lyon, with three sixes following. He then followed that impressive feat up by hitting Josh Hazlewood for four, and then six and then another six. By this point, Stokes had passed 100, and with 17 required, Stokes was luckily dropped by Marcus Harris on the stretch.
England Ride Their Luck
The next over saw only two runs needed, and Stokes’ batting partner Jack Leach was on the brink of being run out, but Nathan Lyon’s fumble gave Leach a reprieve, and England a huge let off. The good luck continued with the next ball, as Stokes looked to be lbw, but as Australia had exhausted their reviews, they were helpless.
Leach needed a single to get Stokes back into bat, and he just scraped one from a Pat Cummins delivery. Stokes was then in a position to wrap up proceedings, and he did so with aplomb, smashing through the covers. With two Test matches left to play in the series, England will be looking to take the lead when the fourth Test begins at Old Trafford in just over a week.
Speaking following his remarkable performance, Stokes said, “It hasn’t quite sunk in. I know we’ve won the game, but I’m pretty tired — a great day.
“We came into the day with a chance, but it’s never over until it’s over. At nine down with 70 left it was obvious what was to be done. I only got nervous when we were down below ten needed, but I had my pitching wedge at a perfect length.
“I couldn’t look when Jack Leach was batting. I was just waiting for the reaction of the crowd! It’s amazing.”
Stokes’ captain Joe Root was quick to praise his charge too, “Ben Stokes is a freak; he’s incredible. To win a game on your own from there is just amazing.”
“That will not sink in for a while. We’ve still got two Tests to play after this! It’s crazy.”