The Ashes 2023: Ben Stokes thinks England can still win series after Headingley victory
Immediately following their dramatic victory in the third Test at Headingley, England captain Ben Stokes said the Ashes were within their grasp.
Two Tests remain in the series, but Australia still leads 2-1.
The Ashes have only ever been won by one side from 2-0 down – Australia in 1936-37.
Stokes’ response to BBC Test Match Special when asked if England could win back the urn was simple: “Yep.”
Wednesday, 19 July, marks the start of the fourth Test at Old Trafford.
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The victory at Headingley on day four reminded Stokes of the acclaimed victory he spearheaded on the same terrain in 2019.
The fourth day of Headingley is upon us once again, he remarked. The place is good for playing cricket.
I don’t know what it is about this place, but it seems to bring out great games and unforgettable moments for the fans who watch.”
It wasn’t Stokes who led England home this time, as he fell behind down the leg side soon after lunch.
Harry Brook hit the match-winning knock. Despite making 75 in a home Test, the Yorkshireman fell with the hosts 21 runs from their target.
From ball one, Brooky controlled the game with his bat, said Stokes.
“He put the pressure straight back on them. His partnership with Chris Woakes was very important for us.
This was an incredible performance for a young athlete in a high-pressure situation during an Ashes series.
There’s no doubt he’s an incredibly gifted player, and the more pressure situations he’s put in, the more he’ll improve.”
With only his second half-century of the series, Brook has had a relatively quiet summer after scoring four centuries in the winter.
A 24-year-old batsman tells Test Match Special that he cannot quite believe he is doing it in front of his own fans at home.
This is a phenomenal win, and it will set the stage for the rest of the series.”
As a team, we are everything
When England sprung a surprise by sending Moeen Ali in at first drop, Brook was back down to five after moving up to three for the first innings.
“Last night Mo came up to Baz and said, ‘Let me take a crack at these guys,'” Stokes said.
It was felt that batting at three would allow him to have a far greater impact on the game than batting at seven would have done.
Although it didn’t work, I love that Mo took responsibility for it.”
I asked for 10 other selfless cricketers when I took on the role, and that little moment where Mo spoke to Baz and said, “I want the opportunity” is exactly what we are about as a team.”
In the aftermath of Brook’s dismissal, Woakes and Wood – both making their first appearances in the series – finished off the job for England.
With 16 runs unbeaten, Wood was named player of the match after taking seven wickets.
Wood and I have been carpooling all week,” Wood said. There would be plenty of runs and wickets in those car share chats, we said.”
We wanted to put in a good performance, it was up and down, but to be 2-1 going into Old Trafford and still in the series is great.” Woakes concluded.
“We have a crazy spell in us, when Harry and I were out there and we got it down, their heads dropped. There are always twists in Ashes games, when Woody went six then four, it calmed us down.”
The momentum has changed, but Cummins dismisses it
England will enter the fourth Test at Old Trafford with renewed confidence, while Australia captain Pat Cummins dismissed the idea that momentum had shifted in the series.
When asked why not, he replied, “2-1.”
The past few months have been wonderful for us,” he said.
“It’s a shame, and it’s one of those games where everyone feels like something could have been done to affect the outcome.
We’ve all played enough cricket to brush this one off and get ready for Manchester.”
In the sunshine at Headingley, pint glasses flew through the air, beer sprayed onto jubilant fans’ heads.
Once again, it was 2019.
England’s chances of winning the Ashes were saved by Ben Stokes that Leeds Sunday.
After hitting the winning runs, Chris Woakes stood with bat and fist aloft before the famous Western Terrace.
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Woakes, still wearing his pads, puffed out his cheeks on Headingley’s dressing room benches, as Stokes had done four years earlier.
Stokes, meanwhile, hugged his teammates, just as his skipper Joe Root did.
Stokes said, “It’s a completely different place when you can’t do anything.”.
The end was a bit nerve-wracking for me, I’ll admit.
During the last half-hour, I walked about two kilometers around the Headingley dressing room. I didn’t watch the last 20 runs.
In the fourth-day nerve-shredding encounter at Headingley, two England batters stepped into the cauldron to a rapturous roar.
Each run, not just the defensive strokes, was applauded – not just because England fans wanted to, but also because it is better to be doing something, anything, when your body is so tense.
When wickets tumbled, the stress tightened. There are foot taps, squirms in your seat, and arms thrown in the air without a care in the world.
After lunch came the moment Headingley dreaded.
Stokes, the talisman, flicks at one down the leg side. Before realizing England’s captain was turning for the dressing room, silence reigned – he can’t have stolen it, of course Stokes didn’t steal it.
There is one thing these locals like more than Stokes: one of their own. The statement was made before the game by Stokes.
According to him, Yorkshire people walk out and play here all the time.
Harry Brook, step up. In Burley-in-Wharfedale, a small Yorkshire village 11 miles from here, the 24-year-old learned the game. His debut for the county had been on this very ground as a teenager.
Brook scored four hundreds in his first six Tests from Rawalpindi to Multan, Karachi to Wellington, in a record-breaking start to his Test career. He did not score any of those innings in the Ashes, or with the weight of a nation on his shoulders.
He guided England through their most dangerous moments, while the Australians and their outnumbered support sensed the moment they had been waiting for – an Ashes victory at home.
Brook showed maturity well beyond his years at 75. England was on the brink of victory when Woakes and Mark Wood sealed the win.
Despite having the world at his feet – and more than £1m from franchise leagues to show for it – Brook was surely reflecting on his proudest moment after the game as he held a beer with his family on the outfield.
There was a big difference between England’s win in 2019 and this one in that it was a team effort, not a hardly believable one-man show.
Stokes played his part as usual. With or without his 80 in the first innings, Pat Cummins would be planning which barber to visit for his urn photograph.
The raw pace of Wood has changed the complexion of the series, with England now posing a serious threat to Australia’s lower order.
It is likely that England have also been more focused this week as a result of the seriousness of their situation, or as a response to criticism in the first two Tests that they were too relaxed.
As Stokes and Root carefully plotted their way through media conferences before the match, wild predictions of a 150-run win were long gone.
Sometimes the hosts had to be persuaded to bowl in ideal conditions at Lord’s.
As his team huddled by the pitch on day three, Stokes gave a speech before Australia’s batters emerged into the darkness.
As a result, a team and series have been resurrected – a show that is ready to go.
Despite being an Englishman, nobody wanted a series billed as the best for a generation to end before the end of the summer.
Three games have gripped us – the Birmingham belter, the Rumble in north London, and the Headingley hair-raiser. Now it has the finish it deserves.
Captains of both teams have said their sides can improve and both have questions to answer.
Does James Anderson return to his home ground for England? As catches continue to be dropped and left for others, can Bairstow maintain his place?
Who will fill England’s void at number three?
After two single-figure scores, Cummins was asked if Warner will keep his place. He replied, “we’ll keep all our options open.” – an answer that will not stop speculation.
We have just enough time to recover before the teams take the field in Manchester in ten days.