Headingley hero Ben Stokes revelled in one of the greatest innings of all time after coming up trumps in the fiercest of pressure situations once again to keep England’s Ashes dream alive.
Barely a month on from inspiring England to victory in the World Cup final, Stokes’ 135 not out ushered the hosts to a record fourth-innings chase of 359 with one wicket to spare in a nerve-shredding climax to the third Ashes Test.
Australia looked to be on the verge of retaining the urn after reducing England to 286 for nine, but an unforgettable last wicket union between Stokes and Jack Leach – who contributed one in an unbroken 76-run partnership – altered the course of the series, at least for now.
No lesser authorities than Geoffrey Boycott, Michael Vaughan and Sir Alastair Cook were queuing up to hail Stokes’ knock as the best in history by an Englishman.
Stokes said: “I’m obviously over the moon that we’ve managed to stay in the series. We knew if we lost this game then the Ashes were gone.
- Ben Stokes' winning moment with Titanic music
- Australian media claim they were robbed
- Check out our new GIVEMESPORT homepage
“When a number 11 comes out needing 70 to win, I knew what I had to do in terms of the game situation. The only time I started to get a little bit nervous or panicking was when we got into single figures.
“To be sat here, especially after getting bowled out for 67 (in the first innings), to still be in with a chance of getting the urn back is an amazing feeling.
“Walking off there at the end when the whole of Headingley was standing up and celebrating was a very special moment and something I had to try to take in because moments like that don’t come along very often.”
Stokes, who admitted his day was “certainly close” to topping what happened at the World Cup, went to stumps on Saturday evening on two not out from 50 balls, as he and captain Joe Root defied Australia in a punishing final session.
Despite doing a lot of the hard work for England, there was one moment in particular that summed up the situation very well.
As Pat Cummins was bowling, Stokes was at the non-striker's end, meaning Leach was facing the bowler.
Like all of us, Stokes simply couldn't watch, and a photo has been snapped of him looking at the ground and refusing to watch the delivery.
We felt your pain, Ben. We all did.News Now - Sport News