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Stars salute ‘special’ Stokes after superhuman innings keeps Ashes alive

England are level at 1-1 in the series with two Tests to go.

Ben Stokes celebrates leading England to a remarkable win (Mike Egerton/PA).
Ben Stokes celebrates leading England to a remarkable win (Mike Egerton/PA).

By PA Sport Staff

Ben Stokes has been saluted by stars of sport and screen after his stunning innings at Headingley kept England’s Ashes hopes alive.

The 28-year-old hit an unbeaten 135 to lead the hosts to a barely-believable one-wicket win in the third Test against Australia.

England, nine wickets down, still needed 73 to pull off the most remarkable of victories, but Stokes’ knock, which included eight sixes, will go down in Test history.

Former Pakistan pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar said on Twitter that “mighty” Stokes had “made impossible possible”.

Stokes was joined in the last-wicket stand by Jack Leach, who scored one not out from 17 balls in a frantic final hour.

Stokes was dropped by Marcus Harris, Nathan Lyon made a mess of a run-out chance and Australia were unable to review an incorrect lbw decision, which gave Stokes not out, because they had earlier wasted their final one.

Actor Bill Bailey revealed he and fellow comedian Sean Lock celebrated the win at a Swedish petrol station.

Bailey said on Twitter: “Whatever the outcome of #ashes2019 I will never forget Ben Stokes crashing the winning four through the covers. I was driving through rural Sweden with Mr Sean Lock, and we pulled over in a garage forecourt, got out, hugged and danced a jig to the amusement of passing motorists.”

The win levelled the series at 1-1, with the fourth Test starting at Old Trafford on September 4.

Former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton praised Stokes’ “control, bravery, intelligence and sheer talent”.

“He turned defeat into a brilliant win (with the help of Leach) It will be remembered as the greatest one man performance ever,” he tweeted.

Stokes’ innings has naturally been compared to Sir Ian Botham’s 1981 match-winning innings on the same ground.

Botham hit an unbeaten 149 to help win the third Test against Australia.

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Ben Stokes’ Headingley innings drew comparisons with Ian Botham’s performance at the same venue in 1981 (PA).

Speaking to Good Morning Britain, the former England all-rounder said: “You’ve got to remember that Ben Stokes is the special one because he is capable of a lot of things.

“He’s growing into a bigger and better cricketer every day and I think he is special, and yesterday was box office.

“You go out there and you enjoy yourself, you play. In ’81 I had a guy called Graham Dilley that batted at the other end and he played magnificently and that was a one-off, I think that was his highest score.”

Ex-England quick Steve Harmison said it was “written in the stars” it was going to be Stokes’ day.

He told Sky Sports: “It brought a lump to your throat, a tear to your eye and to see the people at Headingley jumping and screaming, English cricket, Test match cricket – it’s been a fantastic summer for the game that we all love.”

PA

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