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A Summer To Remember: Ben Stokes 135 Not Out

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England's Ben Stokes after his dismissal
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Ben Stokes 135

Quite often, the day after you come back from a long holiday you start to get the blues. You miss the sand, sun and sea, and not to mention the all inclusive buffet. This particular feeling of sadness should have been further increased by the fact that I was returning from my honeymoon. Two weeks of relaxing and seeing the sights of the magnificent Mediterranean. The feeling of dread however, never arrived. It didn’t get a chance too. The very next day, after returning from foreign shores, I was on my way to witness history. On my way to witness the greatest sporting spectacle I have ever seen in person. On my way to see Ben Stokes rescue England’s Ashes.

Ben Stokes played arguably the greatest innings of all time, to keep England’s shes hopes alive

 

The 25th August 2019, another memorable date in England Cricket’s Summer of 2019. The Current ODI World champions England, were enthralled in a battle for their most prized asset, The Ashes. This was the fourth day of the third test. The Ashes so far had been pretty forgettable for England, with Australia looking like they would retain the urn. With Australia posting 179 in their first innings, and England replying with a measly 67, Australia pinned England down with an additional 246 second innings runs. This was a mammoth chase, one that few believed could be achieved. However, In front of a heaving Headingley crowd, a miracle happened. Enter Ben Stokes.
Ben Stokes, with early support from Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, gave England early hope by producing some excellent cricket. The crowd were in great spirits, in contrast to the early morning doom and gloom based on our previous performances. Despite the growing sense of optimism, tensions were raised when a few cursory words were exchanged. Another fan tried to refill his refreshment during a pause in the over, an obvious crime of cricket etiquette, and this did not go down well with the cricket loving locals. Nevertheless, on a day where we expected to be exiting the stadium very early on, dejected and despairing, I have to admit I started to believe. Maybe we could do this, maybe we had a chance, and perhaps most importantly – maybe it was time for lunch!
 
After Jonny Bairstow was dismissed, the cricket became more of a struggle to watch, and for a moment hope started to fade. England lost two batsmen for just two runs, whilst Ben Stokes maintained his level of calm to continue the knock on his own. Jofra Archer, one of the finest young talents in English Cricket and hero of the World Cup win, was now in to bat in a tense Headingley stadium where the travelling Australian fans had found their voice again. At this point, I was starting to regret the lunch choice of bacon cheeseburger and chips because my stomach was doing summersaults. Archer supplied England with a respectable score of 15 runs (more than I expected him to get if I am honest – having seen him go for 1 or less a lot recently), including three boundaries. Broad came in and offered little resistance, walking straight back off for a duck. Then out of the noise stepped Jack Leach, and this is where things got really interesting.

Jack Leach and Ben Stokes 

 
When Leach joined Stokes in cricket’s colosseum, England still needed 73 runs. Leach was the last batsmen to enter, all re-enforcements exhausted, and it seemed like the beginning of the end. What happened next changed everything. Ben Stokes launched a stunning solo assault on his opponents. On his way to a miraculous 100, he hit off-spinner Lyons for three sixes and decimated Hazelwood’s bowling figures, hitting him for a four and two sixes in three balls. The entire time, from high up in the brand new stand, we held our breath. Every ball was important, every run cheered and every boundary celebrated like we had won the world cup all over again. Jack Leach did his job admirably, give Ben Stokes the strike and most importantly … don’t get out!
 
The next dramatic moment came as England required 17 to win. Ben Stokes was dropped by a diving Marcus Harris. Phew! It really felt like it was going to be our day. This was further exemplified when Lyon fumbled a simple run out opportunity, allowing Jack Leach to fight another day. What a shame. Australia had used all of their reviews. They were therefore exasperated when Stokes was questionably ruled not out for LBW by the umpire. This is a decision I am sure the Aussie’s would have reviewed if they had the chance. In the next over, Jack Leach polished his glasses and bravely scrambled for a single. This was to be his only run in the game, but how important it was. This single run gave Ben Stokes the chance to secure England’s victory with just a single run. It was happening. Pat Cummins bowled to Stokes, who smashed it through the fielders and roared like the three lions embroided on his chest. History made.
 
Upon leaving the stadium I realised that this is one of those moments where I can say “I was there”. Two days before I was walking La Rambla in Barcelona, soaking in the sunshine. The victory had dispatched of the holiday blues, in the same way that Ben Stokes had just dispatched of the Australian Cricket Team, and I felt an incredible sense of pride and happiness. I was however certain that I now needed another holiday, to recover from the emotionally heightened state I found myself in after a magical, memorable and miraculous day of test cricket.
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