Headingley – The superlatives have already been exhausted. Next will come the legend. Let’s stick with the facts. Ben Stokes won the third Ashes Test. His 135no gave England an unlikely forth day victory and kept the Ashes series alive.
Ben was instrumental in sowing the seeds of victory when his 3-56 helped to restrict the Australia to 246 all out in their second innings.
Nevertheless, 359 runs were still required, the highest fourth-innings total for an England test match win. All the smart money was on an Australian victory.
England were 15-2 before Joe Root (77) and Joe Denly (50) gave England supporters the first glimmer of hope. Together they put on 126 for the third wicket.
Then came Ben.
His innings began slowly and patiently, answering the calls for a proper test innings that many pundits had demanded.
Partners came and went, but Ben played to the changing rhythms of the match situation. His 50 was built on stoic resolve, taking 152 balls (6 fours, 1 six).
With 73 still required, England were nine wickets down. Enter Jack Leach (1no).
Ben now started to cut loose. He reached his 100 in 199 balls (8 fours, 5 sixes). Fours crashed to the boundary and sixes flew around the ground,
As the emotions and tension built on the pitch and in the stands, Australian failed to take their opportunities. With his first run Leach tied the game, before Ben’s cut shot sent the ball to the boundary for the winning runs.
Commentators, journalists and ex-players were quick to acclaim Ben’s innings as one of the best played by an England batter.
@GeofferyBoycott tweeted “I’ve seen some remarkable cricket moments in my life but that is the best I’ve seen in over 50 years.”
Some praise indeed.
(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)