England has won the third Ashes test match after a thrilling Ben Stokes century that defied the odds and prevented Australia from retaining the urn.
England levelled the series at 1-1 after beating Australia by one wicket in the third game at Headingley, with Stokes scoring an unbeaten 135.
Stokes’s century channelled the spirit of Sir Ian Botham in 1981 and even eclipsed his match-winning turn in the World Cup final.
Anything less and Australia would have retained the urn at 2-0 with two to play - but what transpired was one of the most incredible roars of defiance ever seen on a cricket field, as he led last man Jack Leach in an unbroken stand of 76 for the final wicket.
Stokes called his stunning innings “unbelievable”, adding on Sky Sports. “It’s one I’ll never forget.
“I’ve got to try and take it all in. I’m not sure it’ll ever happen again. It’s one of the two best feelings I’ve ever felt on a cricket pitch.”
Stokes hit eight sixes and 11 fours as he instantly laid claim to one of the greatest innings of all time, while Leach’s solitary run was the one that levelled the scores.
Australia had two chances to snatch a famous win of their own in the 125th over of an epic innings, but they instead go down as footnotes in Stokes’ story.
With England still one run behind, Nathan Lyon dropped a throw from Pat Cummins at the bowler’s end when a clean take would have allowed him to easily run out the over-exuberant Leach with ease.
Stokes aimed a big slog-sweep at the very next delivery, missing but given not out by umpire Joel Wilson. Replays showed he was bang to rights but Australia had frittered away their last review in the previous over on a hopeless shout against Leach.
Three balls later the number 11 fended Cummins to leg for one, guaranteeing a tie, leaving the stage for Stokes. He did not linger, planting Cummins through the covers for a majestic winning boundary before letting loose a guttural roar that will echo all the way from Manchester to Melbourne.