Ben Stokes accepts his match-winning innings for England against Australia in the third Test at Headingley will count for little unless they win back the Ashes.
The all-rounder shone in England’s dramatic one-wicket victory, scoring a brilliant 135 not out as Joe Root’s side chased down 359. Australia would have retained the urn had they won in Leeds, but Stokes’ exceptional knock means the series is all square ahead of next week’s fourth Test at Old Trafford.
Stokes told Sky Sports News: “I don’t think it has completely sunk in yet and the main reason for that is we have two games to go. It was an amazing week in Headingley and something that will be very hard to forget, but we still have a long way to go. If we don’t get the Ashes back, what will it feel like? I will only take real satisfaction from the innings if we win back the Ashes.”
Stokes praised the contribution of England’s last man and new cult hero Jack Leach, who faced 17 deliveries for his one run at Headingley. The pair put on 74 in an hour to frustrate Australia, who had bowled the hosts out for 67 in the first innings.
“It was a pretty iconic picture, Jack Leach cleaning his glasses after every ball and the video of him running down the pitch has gone viral as well,” Stokes added.
“He has to take a lot of credit from the game because the 17 balls he faced are probably the most crucial he will ever face in his career. We knew how much time we had left and we were fully prepared to take it into day five because we didn’t have any scoreboard pressure.”
The 28-year-old says England go into the fourth Test with a huge amount of belief after snatching victory from the jaws of defeat on Sunday.