“I’ve got to take it all in. I’m not sure it will ever happen again. It’s in the top two feelings I have ever had on a cricket field”
Last Updated: 25/08/19 5:40pm
Ben Stokes says his heroic Ashes-saving century at Headingley “is right up there” with helping England win a thrilling World Cup final at Lord’s earlier this summer.
Stokes’ sensational 135 not out saw England to their highest successful run chase of 359 to level up the series at 1-1 with two Tests to play having been rolled for 67 in their first innings.
England were on the brink at 286-9 but Stokes then dominated an unbroken last-wicket stand of 76 with Jack Leach (1no from 17 balls) in one of the most remarkable Ashes innings ever.
“It was unbelievable and something I will never forget. I’ve got to take it all in. I’m not sure it will ever happen again. It’s in the top two feelings I have ever had on a cricket field,” said Stokes.
“It is right up there [with the World Cup win]. We had to win this game and we managed to do it.
“We have to move on to the next game (at Old Trafford from September 4) having managed to keep our hopes alive of doing the double. We have momentum.
“[I love] being part of those challenges you get faced with – we are playing at the highest level and you don’t expect anything else.
“There is nothing better than being there at the end and getting your team over the line. [Sunday] has been incredible.”
Stokes also explained his mindset during the run chase and how he never stopped believing that England could pull off a stunning victory.
“Never give up. It’s never over until it’s over,” added the all-rounder.
“When Leachy (Jack Leach) came in it was pretty clear what needed to be done. I was saying ‘I’ll take five balls and you take one’.
“Leachy has done it before – he was the super nightwatchman who got 92 [against Ireland at Lord’s in July], so I backed him and knew he had the desire to keep the ball out.
“I wasn’t nervous until we needed single figures but I couldn’t watch at the end – I was just waiting to see what happened!
“They are probably the most crucial balls Jack is going to face in his Test career, so credit to him for doing that in a high-pressure situation.
“When it got down into the 20s, I thought I could rein it in a little but when it was up at fifties, sixties, seventies I thought I really had to go. I was so in the zone of what I had to do.
“Time wasn’t an issue at the start of the day – if it was going to take us until Monday to get the runs we were fully prepared to do that.
“It’s now nice to have a break to recharge the batteries and hopefully hit the ground running again in Manchester.”
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