Ben Stokes’s unbeaten 135 earned England a thrilling one-wicket victory in the third Ashes Test to level the series against Australia at 1-1 on Sunday. His 76-run last-wicket partnership with Jack Leach astounded one and all, and dropped a whole of jaws to the floor.
“Ben Stokes is a freak, he’s incredible. The message at the start was to just keep believing. If we had two people out there still breathing then we have a chance,” said England captain Joe Root after the match.
“After Stokes got to 60, 70 he looked like he wasn’t going to get out. To win a game on your own from there is just amazing. He does have recent experience of doing it. Just incredible to watch unfold,” he added.
Meanwhile, Australia captain Tim Paine was congratulatory of Stokes’s unreal knock.
“Ah look, it happens mate. Ben Stokes has played one of the great innings. It’s got to sting but we have to trust our process, we were very close. We are on the right track and we have two more chances to win the Ashes,” he said.
England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was named man-of-the-match said, “I never gave up. When Jack Leach came in it was pretty clear what I had to do. I told him five and one, I’d take five balls and give him one.”
“Leachy is our super-nightwatchman so I backed him, knowing what we had to do. I couldn’t watch at the end. I couldn’t watch the balls going down.”
Adding to his batting partner’s enthusiasm, England’s tail-end hero Jack Leach, who finished unbeaten on one from 17 balls was ecstatic after the win.
“Are you expecting to get some sense out of me right now? I got off the pitch and then thought, ‘What has Ben Stokes just done?’ I was running towards him after he hit the winning runs and it was the best feeling ever.”
Former England all-rounder Ian Botham had high praise for the 28-year-old England allrounder after his stylish second session knock.
“It takes a remarkable man and I said this morning that someone needed to front up and be strong. I’ve banged the Ben Stokes drum for a long time now and I know when other players see him they think there is something special about him.”
“He is very, very valuable to cricket — not just England, he will sell the game worldwide. He should enjoy every moment. It was a really remarkable performance,” he added.
Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott took to Twitter to express his views.
“I’ve seen some remarkable cricket moments in my life but that is the best I’ve seen in over 50 years. @benstokes38 saved the Ashes and gave a magical, inspirational innings. Even better than his World Cup performance.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan, who led the 2005 Ashes-winning team said, “That is massive for Joe Root. I’ve been in that situation where your team is really struggling. This is his time to try and win an Ashes series on home turf.”
“All England captains need a great all-rounder. I had Andrew Flintoff. Mike Brearley had Ian Botham. And Joe Root has Ben Stokes,” he concluded.