Ben Stokes has been likened to Andrew Flintoff by Simon Jones after the England all-rounder produced a match-winning Ashes contribution while wearing Jack Leach’s box.
Australia’s hopes of retaining the urn with victory in the third Test at Headingley were dashed by Stokes, who made an unbeaten 135 and shared an unbroken last-wicket stand of 76 with Leach to guide England to an incredible one-wicket triumph.
Leach has since revealed superstitious Stokes was wearing his protective box, having borrowed it from him Lord’s – where he also made a century – when he could not find his own.
Former England seamer Jones, who played in 18 Tests between 2002 and 2005, admitted to Omnisport that Leach’s revelation reminded him of his old colleague Flintoff, another all-rounder who relished being his nation’s talisman.
“‘Fred’ was very similar, his corner [in the changing room] was a mess,” said Jones, who was speaking on behalf of Specsavers, the official Test partner of the England cricket team.
“He’d borrow people’s caps, so him and Ben Stokes must be very similar in temperament. You’ve got to love people like that.
— OptaJim (@OptaJim) August 26, 2019
“You get batters who are just sat there, pads on, ready to go. You can imagine those who just do it last minute, and that’s how they function. They will just turn up when they need to do, get it done and play, and they play with that carefree attitude.
“I think that’s a great thing for a player of Ben Stokes’ class to have, it’s the fact you can just go out there, relax and enjoy himself.”
There were numerous eye-catching shots in Stokes’ innings at Headingley. He cleared the ropes with a switch-hit off Nathan Lyon and produced a pre-mediated ramp off Pat Cummins in a knock that featured 11 boundaries and eight maximums.
He was not always in attack mode, though, having made just two off 50 deliveries the previous day when the situation was not as desperate.
“The biggest thing for me in that last Test was just the way he adapted to the situation,” added Jones, a hero of England’s 2005 Ashes triumph.
“He is really developing as a person and as a player. He stood up, he was counted, just played one of the best innings of all time.”