Steve Harmison says England’s Headingley hero Ben Stokes can be compared to Andrew Flintoff as he has “the biggest heart going”.
But Harmison claims his former Durham team-mate has gone one step further than Flintoff following his brilliant Leeds century.
Stokes wrote his name into the history books with an epic knock in the third Ashes Test as England defeated Australia by a single wicket.
The England all-rounder made 135 not out to carry the hosts across the line and level the series, making 74 of his runs in an incredible 10th-wicket partnership of 76 with Jack Leach.
Stokes was immediately compared to past Ashes greats, including Flintoff, a key member of the 2005 winning side.
But Harmison, who played with both, suggests Stokes’ almost single-handed efforts mean his innings must rank above anything produced by Flintoff or others.
“Ben reminds me of Freddie so much because the strongest characteristic they have is they have the biggest heart going,” Harmison told the Telegraph.
When you score an #Ashes but don’t even celebrate…
The only number that mattered to @benstokes38 was 3️5️9️
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) August 26, 2019
He added: “But whereas Freddie was the jewel in the crown of a very good team, Ben has just single-handedly saved an Ashes series for England.
“Freddie balanced the books in 2005, he gave us a middle order that could take the game away from the opposition and he gave us something extra with the ball. But without Ben, the Ashes were gone, the urn was staying in Australia.
“What Ben did on Sunday I don’t think will ever be beaten. Nobody in their right mind was backing England to win after they were bowled out for 67.
“They were beaten, but now they are in a position to win the Ashes. Ben did that. His team-mates need to win it for him now.
“I’ve never seen an innings like that from anyone, ever. I look at what Kevin Pietersen did in 2005 at The Oval, that got us over the line in the final game of an Ashes series, but what Ben did, you won’t see anything like that again.”