Phew!! What a game we have had at Headingly. This was Test cricket at its absolute best. There was elation, disappointment, heartbreak all at the end of it, something which Test cricket can do to players and fans alike. A true masterpiece by Ben Stokes changed an abject batting performance by England on day 2 to absolute elation at the end of it all.
Australia who dominated the game, for the most part, will be absolutely gutted. They played brilliantly throughout and their bowlers gave it all but there is no shame losing to one of the finest innings ever played in the Test cricket history. The day one of the Test matches began with Australia getting bowled out for 179 with Jofra Archer taking his first five-wicket haul. England who started day two with a hope of taking a lead was blown away for just 67 by the Aussie pace attack. Josh Hazlewood with a fifer being the pick of the bowlers.
With a lead of 112, the Aussie batters played really well in the second dig. Powered by yet another fifty by Marnus Labuschagne they reached 246 runs leaving England with 359 runs to get to win the Test match. A task which was considered improbable considering the abject surrender of the English batting line up in the first innings.
England started poorly in the second innings losing both the openers soon. Jason Roy who has been having a nightmare of a series once again got dismissed for a single-digit score and might have played his last Test innings for a while. Joe Root and Joe Denly then fought back with a good partnership with both the batters scoring a fifty. England ended day three with a hope of getting close to the target.
The day 4 began brilliantly for the Aussies as Joe Root was snapped up by Nathan Lyon early to leave England four down. Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow played positively to lead England to Lunch with still 120+ runs to get. After lunch, Australia dismissed both Bairstow and Buttler in quick succession leaving England 6 down and with hopes dwindling down Ben Stokes took the matter into his own hands.
The genial all-rounder then took control and smashed the Aussie bowling to all parts with number 11 Jack Leach for company. An innings of 135 of 219 balls was an absolute delight. Jack Leah hung around valiantly while Ben Stokes was compiling a masterpiece. The pair added 76 of just 62 balls with Jack Leach just contributing 1 run of that partnership.
This was an incredible game of cricket and we probably saw one of the greatest innings of all time played at the Headingly. Ben Stokes who played a similar inning in the World Cup finals showed that he has nerves of steel as he once again pulled out a stunner to deny Aussies a chance to reclaim the urn. This was an absolutely brilliant Test match and has surely made the Test Championship a brilliant success so far.
The Ashes has always produced amazing games in the past but this one for sure is one of the best. Ben Stokes has for sure become an Ashes hero of Ian Botham’s league and rightfully so. He surely deserves all the accolades he is receiving and he has given England a chance now to get back into the series. For Australia, though this was a disappointing end to the Test match which they dominated and they would have to start over again and their only solace is that Steve Smith will be back for the fourth Test.
England 67 (Hazlewood 5/30) & 362/9 (Ben Stokes 135*, Hazlewood 4/85) beat Australia 179 (Labuschagne 74, Archer 6/45) & 246 (Labuschagne 80, Stokes 3/56)