Ben Stokes’s best England innings since Botham puts all else in shade | Andy Bull


After a dizzying day in Leeds it is hard to imagine anything this year in this sport or any eclipsing Stokes’s display to win the third Test against Australia and keep the Ashes open

Oh hell, just call it all off now. Forget the Premier League, cancel the Rugby World Cup, bin the world athletics championship and whatever else we’re supposed to get excited about in the coming weeks and months. And for goodness sake, junk the Hundred too. They’ll all pale after this Headingley Test, when Ben Stokes, that most unlikely saint, worked the second of the two miracles he needs for his canonisation. This was the innings of his lifetime, and everyone else’s too, certainly the best anyone has played for England since Ian Botham overturned odds of 500-1 when he made his unbeaten 149 at this very same ground back in 1981, and, sober judges reckoned, perhaps even better than that.

“The most extraordinary innings ever played by an Englishman‚” was all Alastair Cook had to say after Stokes had smacked that last four away. Never mind everyone else, even Stokes found the finish too excruciating to watch.

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Written by Andy Bull at Headingley
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