What a Test match it was! With one run required for victory, Ben Stokes smashed Pat Cummins through the off-side for a boundary to guide England to a remarkable, come from behind victory in the third Test match of the 2019 Ashes. With this nail-biting win, the series is level at 1-1. Sunday was one of those days where if you were an English fan, lunch would have gone down the belly well. Australia had their chances and blew it big-time. Firstly an lbw appeal that was clearly going down leg and Aussie skipper Tim Paine desperately used it. This was costly as Nathan Lyon minutes later had Stokes plumb in front trying to sweep. The only difference was they used up their reviews and opportunity lost. Nathan Lyon also missed a crucial run-out at the non-strikers end, only to fumble and Jack Leach the number 11 scampered back to the crease.
Aussie coach Justin Langer has stated that they have lots of “serious questions” over areas that need to be rectified in the near future. One positive for Australia is that their sensational batsman Steve Smith should be back for the Old Trafford match.
Cricket pundits have labelled this as one of the greatest Ashes Test matches ever played. Full of drama, excitement and nervousness. Ben Stokes’ unbeaten 135 was simply breath-taking and completely took the game away from the Aussies. It has to be said that 2019 is Ben’s year to savor. Cricket as we know is similar to life. Mistakes will be made along the way but it is how you learn from it. April 2016 was a nightmare in the World T20 final against the West Indies when he was smashed for four consecutive sixes from Carlos Brathwaite in the last over. Tears of sorrow then has been transformed into tears of joy over time. Ben Stokes was also the golden boy in the recently concluded World Cup final last month by also claiming man of the match.
After this magnificent Headingley run-chase, the Ashes is still alive with the fourth Test carded for Old Trafford a little over a week from now. People are calling him “Sir Ben” as it has been stated as one of the best knocks ever seen in modern day Test Cricket. Some will have to argue though that just a few months ago in South Africa, Kusal Perera smashed an unbeaten 153 in the first Test of that series to guide Sri Lanka to an epic last wicket win. The talented Sri Lankan batsman took on the mighty pace attack of the South Africans in their own backyard and tore them to pieces. Two miracles produced in the same year and this is what Test Cricket needed so badly. With all the talks that T20 is the game to play, it just goes to show that Test matches are still the true form of the game. Definitely in my books.
A week’s break will give both teams space to breathe, especially for the Australians. They would have been distraught after they had the game in the bag, or so they thought. Aussie coach Justin Langer has stated that they have lots of “serious questions” over areas that need to be rectified in the near future. One positive for Australia is that their sensational batsman Steve Smith should be back for the Old Trafford match. On the other hand, James Anderson should be fit for England as well. It will be an excellent match up as the best Australian batsman battles England’s best bowler in the history of Test Cricket. This 2019 series may not be on the same level as the 2005 Ashes, but it’s still on a knife-edge nevertheless.
England’s modern day all-rounder has been compared to England’s greatest all-rounder in Sir Ian Botham. Botham’s near impossible heroics at Headingley in the 1981 Ashes was incredible. The series was labelled as “Botham’s Ashes” only due to the fact that England won the series in the end. Who knows what may happen in the next 2 games. For now, Stokes will be basking in the limelight. He definitely brought England back in this series. With momentum on England’s side, it will be the icing on the cake if England were to regain the Ashes in mid-September. It will spell a perfect summer for the World Cup champs. In the meantime, bring on Manchester. We have an even contest in the 2019 Ashes series!