Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Cricket

Ben stokes the flames as England close in on Ashes

By David Clough

Ben Stokes is savouring the chance to taste Ashes success after bowling England to the brink of victory at Trent Bridge.

Alastair Cook's side fell three wickets short of consigning Australia to a two-day humbling in the fourth Investec Test but Stokes did his best to speed things along with an impressive return of five for 35.

The tourists will resume knowing their hopes of retaining the urn are all but over, their 241 for seven leaving them 90 runs short of making England bat again.

And Stokes is setting his sights on finishing matters with minimal fuss.

The Durham all-rounder, whose first series was the whitewash Down Under 18 months ago, said: "We're in an unbelievable position here. A really, really good position.

"They're not quite in our grasp yet, but we hope they're very close.

"We need three more wickets to get the Ashes back, but we know their tail can hang around and get some runs.

"The most crucial thing is that we go out and make sure we don't have to get the pads on, because their tail end wagged a bit at Edgbaston.

"Hopefully we can just knock them over and get the game over and done.

"We know no game is over until the last wicket is taken, so we'll take that attitude in," he added.

Stokes turned in arguably his best spell for England, keeping the tourists guessing with a display of controlled swing bowling that would have drawn admiring nods from the injured James Anderson.

He also held the catch that did for Steve Smith just before lunch, the world's number one batsman falling in single figures for the fourth innings in succession.

Smith claimed prior to the series that England would "not come close" to an in-form Australia, and the comment had not escaped Stokes' notice.

"Yeah, we did see that," he said.

"I don't want to go too far with this so...we hope we're going to lift the Ashes tomorrow...that's it."

Stokes' five-for, his second in Tests, was the latest in a series of important contributions.

Joe Root has scored two hundreds, while Broad's career-best eight for 15 will linger long in the memories of anyone who witnessed it.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph