|Men’s Ashes: Third Specsavers Test, Headingley (day four of five)|
|Australia 179 (Labuschagne 74, Archer 6-45) & 246 (Labuschagne 80)|
|England 67 (Hazlewood 5-30) & 362-9 (Stokes 135*, Root 77, Hazlewood 4-85)|
|England won by one wicket|
England all-rounder Ben Stokes says scoring a match-winning century to square the Ashes series was an “amazing feeling”.
Stokes’ 135 not out, six weeks after his heroic display in the World Cup final, dragged England to a one-wicket win over Australia at Headingley.
“To still be there at the end and keep our Ashes hopes alive was a pretty special feeling,” said Stokes.
“Moments like that don’t come along very often.”
The home side still needed 73 to reach their target of 359 – an England record – when Stokes was joined by last man Jack Leach.
At that point Stokes was on 61, but he began a stunning assault on the Australia bowling to ensure England still have a chance of regaining the Ashes.
When asked if it was a bigger achievement than his display in the World Cup final, Stokes responded: “It’s certainly close.
“To still be in with a chance of getting the urn back is an amazing feeling.”
Stokes’ effort meant England won the third Test despite being bowled out for 67 on Friday; becoming only the third team to win a match after being dismissed for less than 70 in their first innings.
“In terms of where we were at, I’m over the moon we managed to stay in the series,” said the Durham man.
“Walking off at the end was a time to take everything in and realise what we had just achieved as a team, not just me as an individual.
“Bouncing back from being bowled out for 67 to be chasing down 359 was brilliant.”
England captain Joe Root praised Stokes as a “freak” and “incredible”.
“The message at the start was to just keep believing,” Root told Test Match Special. “If we had two people out there still breathing then we have a chance.
“After Ben got to 60 or 70 he looked like he wasn’t going to get out. To win a game on your own from there is just amazing.
“It was just incredible to watch it unfold.”
Former captain Alastair Cook heaped further praise on Stokes, saying it was “the most extraordinary Test innings ever played by an England batsman”.
Cook, speaking on Test Match Special, added: “To do that after the World Cup final – these are once-in-a-lifetime innings. He’s done it twice in six weeks.”
Another ex-captain, Michael Vaughan, said that Stokes had pulled off “something extraordinary”.
“That shouldn’t happen,” said Vaughan. “You shouldn’t be able to do that.
“I’ve never seen a better Test innings. Ever.”
Although England are level in the series, they will lose the chance of regaining the urn if they are beaten in either of the final two Tests.
“Can they do it again at Old Trafford (4-8 September) and The Oval (12-16 September)?” said Vaughan. “If they can, they have a great chance to win the Ashes again.
“But they can’t rely on an innings like that again.”