Stokes’ smartness for 135 runs made Australia look devoid of all ideas

NASSER HUSSAIN: Ben Stokes’ smartness for unbeaten 135 run haul made Tim Paine and Australia look devoid of all ideas

  • Stokes’ heroics secured England’s unlikely victory in third Ashes Test 
  • His 135 run haul was made up of correct decisions for last wicket stand 
  • England’s hero is blessed with exceptional talent and works incredibly hard
  • Australia would have wrapped up the series had it not been for Stokes

There are not enough superlatives to describe Ben Stokes here after one of the great Test innings in one of the greatest of all Tests. He does not know when to give up.

Just think about what he has been through this summer. Just think about the mental and physical effort that went into winning the World Cup. This bloke was there at the end of it. Stokes was there at the end of the super over. And now consider the energy and mental toughness he needed to do what he did here at Headingley yesterday.

It was the smartness of that unbeaten 135 that I can’t get over. Stokes made Tim Paine and Australia look completely devoid of all ideas. They just did not know what to do. Every decision he made at every stage of that last wicket stand with Jack leach was the right one.

Ben Stokes’ 135 run haul made Tim Paine and Australia look completely devoid of all ideas

When Stokes needed to swing he swung. When he needed to switch-hit Nathan Lyon into the Western Terrace for six he did so. When he needed to knock the ball for two he did it and when he needed to take singles he did that too. I’ve never seen anything like that.

You can talk about one-day cricket and the Twenty20 game. But give me these four days in Leeds and that last hour yesterday ahead of anything this game can offer.

Look at this packed Headingley crowd too and their reaction as everything unfolded. I think they would put Test cricket ahead of everything else this game can offer too judging by the way they appreciated not just every six but every single and even dot balls.

Stokes and final wicket partner Jack Leach celebrate after the dramatic victory was confirmed

This has to go down with Headingley 1981 and Edgbaston 2005 as the greatest Tests that we have ever seen in this country. How can anyone produce what Stokes did yesterday when the Ashes were on the line? He’s an absolute legend.

Australia got things wrong, no question. Some of their tactics were badly wrong. How could Paine keep on leaving the field back, allowing Stokes to take a single off the fifth ball of the over and giving his team just one ball at Leach. That was ridiculous.

And then there was the wasted review that cost them so dear. The ball from Pat Cummins to Leach was clearly pitching outside leg-stump. Australia’s reviews have been poor throughout the series and surely yesterday they had to take into account how bad the umpiring has been in this series and that Joel Wilson was standing at Lyon’s end. Paine badly needed that review but he used it up out of sheer desperation.

Stokes deserved his luck after the tourists fumbled a catch and later wasted their final review 

But Ben Stokes deserved that luck. When you look back at the great all-rounders it all came naturally to someone like Sir Ian Botham. Then you have players who are perhaps not blessed with quite so much ability but make the most of it. This man is a unique combination. He is blessed with exceptional talent, works so hard to make the most of it and is extremely tough mentally.

Do not forget his bowling either. Stokes brought England back into the match late on the second day after they had been bowled out for 67 with a spell of 14 hours on the bounce that was heroic.

Yes, Ben has had his problems off the field but those images from Bristol that perhaps clouded what people may think of him are not representative of the Stokes I know.

The star had also brought England back in the second day after they were bowled out for 67

When I see him on the circuit day in and day out he is a polite and very popular young man. He also works harder on his fitness and his game than anyone else I can think of. Those things pay off in the end when you are having a summer like he is.

The fumble by Lyon that cost Australia so dear was an example of the pressure these guys were under out there. It was the biggest pressure you can get in cricket.

When you are under pressure and you’re tired you normally make mistakes in any walk of life so to have the clarity of thought that Stokes had was beyond belief. And that’s why the Ashes are still alive heading to Manchester next week.

You feel for Australia. They must have thought it was all done and dusted here when Stuart Broad was ninth out with 73 needed and this will take some hitting back from.

Australia have nine days to prepare for the fourth Test and will likely select Steve Smith

At least they have nine days now before the fourth Test and they look sure to be able to bring Steve Smith back. I’m pretty sure Mitchell Starc will come back too on what will probably be the fastest pitch of the series at Old Trafford.

But something like this can only lift England. When the difficult moments come up in the final two Tests they will remember this partnership while Australia will still be thinking ‘how could we possibly have lost that.’

The Aussies should have wrapped the Ashes up by now. That they have not is fantastic for the series and for English cricket. Thanks to Ben Stokes.

Share this article

Source: Read Full Article