Monday, July 15, 2024

‘Headingley, day four yet again’: Leeds win reminds Ben Stokes of famous 2019 triumph

England captain Ben Stokes has said that the victory on day four at Headingley brought back memories of the renowned triumph he led in 2019 on the very same ground.

After being 0-2 down in the five-match Ashes series, England made a comeback in the third Test in a blazing fashion in Leeds on Sunday. Harry Brook’s fighting 75 led the way for a three-wicket victory at Headingley, the same venue where, four years ago, Stokes’ unbeaten 135 guided England to a Test win for the ages.

“Headingley, day four yet again. It’s some place to play cricket. I don’t know what it is about the place but it seems to bring out great,” Stokes told BBC.

Mark Wood, who played his first Test this year, was adjudged Player of the Match for his fiery performance with returns of 5/34 and 2/66. He also made 8-ball 24 and 8-ball 16* with the bat.

Stokes contributed with a vital 80 in the first innings, however, this time it was Harry Brook, who paved the way for England with a fighting 93-ball 75 while chasing. The England captain was all praise for the youngster’s “incredible” performance.

“The way Brooky controlled the game from ball one with the bat was amazing. He went out there and put the pressure straight back on them. Then the way he played with Chris Woakes in that very important partnership for us, it was high class.

“For such a young lad, in a high-pressure situation in an Ashes series, it was incredible. We’ve all seen what he can do with the bat, he’s an incredibly gifted player and he’s only going to get better the more pressure situations he gets put in.”,” said Stokes.

Brook, who was promoted to No.3 in the first innings, was sent in at No.5 in the second innings after England sprung a surprise and sent Moeen Ali in at first drop.

The decision to promote Moeen Ali up the order looked as if it had come crashing down when he was bowled for 5 to leave England 60 for two, but actually allowing Brook to come in at his preferred number five position proved to be the right decision.

“Last night Mo (Moeen) came up to Baz (Brendon McCullum) and said, ‘Let me have a go at three, I want to have a go at these guys,” Stokes explained the reason behind the rejig in the batting order.

“We thought he could have a much bigger influence on the game batting at three this innings than he would down at seven,” he further added. It didn’t work but I love the fact that Mo took the responsibility on his shoulders.

“When I took the role on, I asked for 10 other selfless cricketers and that little moment of Mo going to Baz and saying, ‘I want the opportunity’ is everything we’re about as a team,” he said.

England’s three-wicket victory keeps the series alive but Australia still leads 2-1 with two Tests to play. The fourth Test in Manchester, starting 19 July, is expected to be yet another enthralling encounter.

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