Ashes series back on after Ben Stokes heroics

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England captain Joe Root believes Ben Stokes’ Headingley heroics can reshape the rest of the Ashes, shifting the momentum decisively in the home side’s favour. By PA

Stokes’ astonishing 135 not out single-handedly altered the course of the series, powering England past a target of 359 – their best ever chase in Test cricket – to level things up at 1-1.

In doing so he struck eight mighty sixes, 11 fours and coaxed a scarcely believable last-wicket stand worth 76 out of Jack Leach, who contributed a solitary run but kept out 17 deliveries in an hour-long supporting role.

Stokes’ knock instantly earned its place as one of the greatest innings in Test history, sitting proudly amongst the grandest displays in the 142 years of Ashes cricket, and Root thinks it will drive England’s bid to reclaim the urn.

The sides resume battle at Old Trafford on September 4 before the final match at the Oval and events of the past 24 hours are likely to loom large.

I’m going to struggle to put into words exactly what happened and I think I will do for a long time,

It took a heroic effort from Ben to get us across the line and that gives us a huge amount of belief and confidence. It feels like momentum can be quite a big thing in series like this one, five-match series, so hopefully we can ride that into Old Trafford.

Joe Root

To find ourselves in the positions we did and come out winning the game, not just being nine down with 73 to go but also being 67 all out in the first innings, that will hold a lot of weight to carry into the next two games.

We always feel we should never give up, our World Cup win was a great example of that, and coming into this series it was so important to have faith and belief in each other. To win this one is special.”

It was equally special for the sold-out crowd in Leeds, who played their part by bellowing the side on throughout their famous chase. The atmosphere whipped up inside the ground hit fever pitch long before Stokes’ work was done and Root hopes for more of the same in Manchester.

England fans show support for Ben Stokes by lifting their shoes up during day four of the third Ashes Test at Headingley
England fans show support for Ben Stokes by lifting their shoes up during day four of the third Ashes Test at Headingley (Mike Egerton/PA)

We felt like we had 12 men for the majority of this game. We’ve got the best fans in the world.

The support in this game particularly, at Edgbaston, at the back end of Lord’s…it’s been electric, it really has. It has made a huge difference to the group and I’m sure Old Trafford will not disappoint.

It’s always a fantastic atmosphere at that ground. It’s great to see people enjoy the sport, great to see cricket grabbing the headlines and great to see England win.”

Root did not ignore the elephant in the room, the shambolic capitulation on Friday morning that so nearly cost England dear.

Regardless of what followed, 67 all out in under 28 overs was a nadir and one that must not be repeated.

Joe Root admitted the first-innings 67 was simply not good enough
Joe Root admitted the first-innings 67 was simply not good enough (Tim Goode/PA)

Let’s talk about the first innings. We were poor, we were very poor. It did seam around a bit, it did move but we weren’t good enough. It’s simple as that.

Every single one of us in that dressing room knows that was not adequate for Test cricket. In many ways we weren’t anywhere near where we want to be in this game and in a slightly strange way that’s a positive because we can be so much better.

Hopefully we can go on and play in the manner we did in the second innings, not the first.”

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Sunday 5th April - US Racing Acca

Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5. Bet Credits available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.

17:52

Tampa Bay Downs

Lem Me Tel Ya To Win

He has won four times from 6f to 7f. A winner at 14-1 at Tampa Bay Downs over 6f on his latest outing last month, beating Resident. Expect another bold showing.

18:48

Tampa Bay Downs

Kalu To Win

Successful twice at 6f. Won on his latest outing when 11-10fav at Tampa Bay Downs over 6f last month, beating Minnesota Lucky. Another bold bid from the front beckons as he drops in class.

19:19

Tampa Bay Downs

Majestic Melody To Win

Won on his latest outing when 2-5fav at Tampa Bay Downs over 7f in February last year, beating Alfred The Great. The absence has to be a worry, but his stable is in form.

19:50

Tampa Bay Downs

Classy Of Course To Win

Successful twice at 1m on good ground. A winner at 5-1 at Tampa Bay Downs over 1m (good) on her latest outing last month, beating Don’t Fight by 3 1/2l. Expected to give another good account from on or near the pace.

20:20

Tampa Bay Downs

Speeding Starlet To Win

Winner of five races at 1m. Third of 7 behind Scarlet Bow beaten at 2-1 on her latest outing at Tampa Bay Downs over 1m in February. Having her first run for a new stable today, previously with Gerald Bennett. Goes well at this venue and a bold bid seems assured.

20:51

Tampa Bay Downs

Jais’s Solitude To Win

He has won three times from 7f to 1m 4f on good ground. Beaten 6l behind March To The Arch at 8-1 when last of 9 on his latest outing at Gulfstream over 1m (good) in January. Drops significantly in grade and it will be disappointing if he fails to make his presence felt.

Returns and odds correct at time of publishing.