Ben Stokes has the heart of a lion and is the perfect team-mate says Stuart Broad, who admitted he thought the Ashes were over for England.
Stokes made a brilliant unbeaten 135 as England remarkably recovered from 286-9 to chase down 359 and beat Australia by one wicket at Headingley on Sunday, leaving the series level at 1-1 with two Tests to play.
The England all-rounder, who starred in the World Cup final, also took four wickets in the match as he followed his unbeaten 115 at Lord’s with another world-class performance in Leeds.
Jack Leach provided vital support with one not out but Stokes went into one-day mode, hitting eight sixes in a blistering innings to secure one of cricket’s most dramatic victories.
“It was one of those ‘I was there’ moments,” Broad said to Sky Sports. “It was absolutely spectacular. I don’t think anyone in this ground will see a better innings. It had everything. He struck the ball beautifully.
“The bloke has got the heart of a lion. Everything he does is for the team. He is the perfect team-mate. He didn’t celebrate his fifty; he didn’t celebrate his hundred. He deserves everything that comes his way because he’s an incredible cricketer and an even better bloke.
“The emotions of that last hour were outrageous. Cricketers don’t go through that in careers – so for some of these World Cup players to go through that twice in six weeks is outrageous.
“The belief has always been there in this game. But nine down, one ball finishes the Ashes series. Of course I thought the Ashes were over.”
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) August 25, 2019
England won the toss and put Australia in, failing to capitalise on reducing the tourists to 25-2, then making a pitiful 67 all out in response to give Tim Paine’s side a huge advantage.
But after Joe Root’s 77 built a platform for England’s record chase, Stokes spectacularly completed the job and Broad feels his team are now favourites.
“On day one we should have bowled Australia out for 120 to be honest,” Broad added. “I apologised to the guys after that.
“67 all out is inexcusable, we didn’t show any responsibility, we didn’t communicate well. It was really poor.
“Then we could have bowled them out for 150 again in the second innings. It’s been a sloppy game for us but one man’s heroics has bailed us out and now we all have to step it up.
“Headingley has seen some special Tests over the years, the support was incredible. 1-1 didn’t look possible two hours ago and now I am backing us to go on and win it.”
Old Trafford hosts the fourth Test, which gets under way on September 4.