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Ashes: Couldn't watch the last 20 runs being scored: Stokes

July 09, 2023 23:50 IST

IMAGE: Following England’s win in the third Test, skipper Ben Stokes admitted it was too much for him to watch! Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters

England's exhilarating run chase to battle back into the Ashes series was even too much for captain Ben Stokes, despite the captain being the source of many a dramatic innings.

Supporters headed to Headingley on day four with England needing 224 runs in the must-win Test to stop Australia retaining the Ashes with two matches to spare, with Stokes very much in mind as their go-to hero.

On the ground where Stokes' incredible 135 not out steered England to victory over their old foes in the 2019 series, the skipper managed just 13 and had to watch on from the pavilion.

Not that he could bring himself to, as Chris Woakes hit the winning runs to seal a pulsating three-wicket win to leave the series finely-poised at 2-1 to Australia.

"I'm not going to lie, I was a bit nervous at the end," Stokes said. "We knew we needed to win this one to keep alive our hopes of winning the Ashes.

"I walked about two kilometres around the Headingley dressing room in the last half-hour, I didn't actually watch the last 20 runs being scored. It's a completely different place when you can’t do anything, you can't influence the game anymore.

"You're left watching and hoping things are going to go your way. Because of where the series was at before this game started the whole performance with bat, ball, field -- it was just an unbelievable effort from everybody."


The key innings came from young Harry Brook, whose 75 made all the difference on his home ground. Brook carried the England resistance, reaching his half-century off 57 balls -- his ninth score of 50 or more for England in just 10 Tests.

Scoring at a rapid rate has been Brook's calling card since he came into the England side. He passed 1,000 Test runs in 1,058 balls during his innings -- faster than any other batter in Test history.

"I think that knock was under the pressure and the circumstance of where we are in the series," Stokes added. "To be there and have the contribution that got us over the line was crucial.

"Brooky has got a very good head on his shoulders, he’s a very talented boy and I think we've allowed him to really propel his talent with bat in hand."

Australia captain Pat Cummins was not too downhearted, given just how close his side got to finishing the job in Leeds, but unlike Stokes, is not willing to miss a minute.

"We were in control when Moeen (Ali) got Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith and we just needed to keep going," Cummins said.

"Unfortunately it happens. I thought getting up to 250 gave us something pretty competitive to bowl at but it wasn't quite enough.

"It is still 2-1. We take each test in its own right. They have been a great watch so far. It's great cricket. I actually really enjoy being out there."

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