Stokes steers England to sensational Test victory over Australia
Sport news Aug 25, 2019 at 14:03
(CNN)It will be remembered as Headingley’s last stand.
England staged an incredible fightback to stop Australia retaining the Ashes in a seesawing third Test at the Yorkshire ground.
Chasing a record 359 runs to win, England fought back to 238-4 at lunch Sunday before Australia rattled out five wickets to reach the brink of retaining the famous Ashes urn.
But an incredible last stand by Ben Stokes — who hit an amazing series of sixes — and tailender Jack Leach took England to an unlikely win.
The series is now tied at one-all with two Tests to go.
‘Never over until it’s over’
Stokes was the hero in a remarkable run chase, hitting an unbeaten 135 which included 11 fours and 8 sixes.
“It’s never over until it’s over — that’s what I kept on thinking,” he told broadcaster Sky Sports.
“When you’re out there in the middle and you know what’s on the line adrenalin keeps you going.
“If it took us until tomorrow we were going to get those runs. I didn’t start getting nervous until we got to single figures.
“There’s nothing better than getting your team over the line — it hasn’t sunk in yet.”
‘Unbelievable skill and courage’
Just a few short weeks ago, Stokes conjured another spine-tingling performance as he inspired England to victory in the Cricket World Cup final.
READ: England defeat Australia in astonishing World Cup final
On a heady July day at Lord’s, he scored an unbeaten 84 with a muscular, unflinching performance.
But the drama of an Ashes series presents an even tougher test than the cauldron of world-class, one-day cricket. Once again Stokes was up to the task.
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, a man who knows a thing or two about the unique pressures of the Ashes, said: “This is one of the best innings I’ve ever seen.
“His team was gone, dead and buried — but Stokes had none of that. He played an unbelievable innings.”
Former England captain David Gower, also speaking on Sky Sports, added: “That is the most extraordinary performance by anyone that I’ve ever seen as a broadcaster and a player.
“That takes unbelievable skill and courage.”
Leach also played his part in England’s brilliant, resilient last stand. The bowler stood firm for 60 minutes, doing his job of blocking balls and returning Stokes to the strike.
The pair put on 76 runs, the third highest final wicket stand in the history of first-class cricket.
England’s hopes of keeping the Ashes series alive were very slim indeed after the home side were skittled out for just 67 runs in the first innings.
But this is Test match cricket — and it ain’t over when Ben Stokes swings.