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Headingley joy won't mean a thing unless we lift urn: Stokes

 

Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes

By Robert Jones

Ben Stokes accepts that his match-winning innings for England against Australia in the third Test at Headingley will count for little unless they win back The Ashes.

The all-rounder shone in England's dramatic one-wicket victory, scoring a brilliant 135 not out as Joe Root's side chased down 359.

Australia would have retained the urn had they triumphed in Leeds, but Stokes' exceptional knock means the series is all square ahead of next week's fourth Test at Old Trafford.

Stokes (below) said: "I don't think it has completely sunk in yet and the main reason for that is we have two games to go.

"It was an amazing week, and something that will be very hard to forget, but we still have a long way to go.

"If we don't get The Ashes back, what will it feel like? I will only take real satisfaction from the innings if we win back The Ashes."

Stokes praised the contribution of last man and new cult hero Jack Leach, who faced 17 deliveries for his one run at Headingley.

The pair put on 74 in the space of an hour to frustrate Australia, who had bowled the hosts out for 67 in the first innings.

"It was a pretty iconic picture, Jack Leach cleaning his glasses after every ball, and the video of him running down the pitch has gone viral," Stokes added. "He has to take a lot of credit because the 17 balls he faced are probably the most crucial he will ever face."

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