Some of the world’s most successful athletes paid homage to Ben Stokes after the all-rounder led England to victory in the third Ashes Test at Headingley.
Stokes’ 135 not out helped England chase down a mammoth 359 target on the fourth day against Australia, after all seemed lost for the hosts at 286 for nine.
Enter Jack Leach, who valiantly fought to stay in, allowing Stokes to complete his second heroic innings of the summer, having won the World Cup for England just weeks before.
England great Geoffrey Boycott described the victory as one of the best cricket moments of his life, tweeting: “I’ve seen some remarkable cricket moments in my life but that is the best I’ve seen in over 50 years.
“@benstokes38 saved the Ashes and gave a magical inspirational innings. Even better than his World Cup performance.”
Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan backed Boycott up, adding: “When @GeoffreyBoycott says it’s the Greatest Test innings he has seen in 60 yrs watching the game you know it’s the GREATEST.”
I’ve seen some remarkable cricket moments in my life but that is the best I’ve seen in over 50 years. @benstokes38 saved the Ashes and gave a magical inspirational innings. Even better than his World Cup performance.— Geoffrey Boycott (@GeoffreyBoycott) August 25, 2019
Well done @ECB_cricket
One man who has already experienced Stokes’ heroics this summer is Eoin Morgan, who captained the England one-day side to victory at Lord’s in the World Cup.
He kept it short and sweet, tweeting: “Truly remarkable” along with a shrugging emoji.
Former players from around the globe also got involved, with former Australia bowler Jason Gillespie hailing Stokes’ innings as “one of the best of all time” while former India great Virender Sehwag tweeted: “That was special from Ben Stokes. Single handedly winning the test match. Great viewing.”
That was special from Ben Stokes. Single handedly winning the test match. Great viewing— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) August 25, 2019
Ben Stokes, you absolute beauty! What an innings 👏— Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) August 25, 2019
But it was not just the world of cricket that was hooked. Sky Sports pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher were sufficiently distracted from the Premier League football on offer.
Liverpool’s Champions League-winner Carragher said he believed the day’s play represented “Test Cricket at its best” while Neville, one of the most decorated club footballers in English history, tweeted “Wow!! Amazing!”
Test Cricket ❤️— Gary Neville (@GNev2) August 25, 2019
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker, meanwhile, appears to believe Stokes has the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award sewn up if his tweets are to be believed.
“Do we need to bother with any other contenders for Sports Personality Of The Year?” he posted.
Do we need to bother with any other contenders for Sports Personality Of The Year?— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) August 25, 2019
England’s rugby alumni know a career-defining moment when they see one, having lifted the Rugby World Cup in 2003.
Two members of that side logged on to Twitter to share their thoughts, with Matt Dawson tweeting: “I’m not sure I’ll ever forget that knock” while Will Greenwood described the batsman as a “sporting genius”.
I feel like I’ve just stepped into a time machine and ended up in the summer of ‘81..... I’m not sure I’ll ever forget that knock @benstokes38 #puretestcricket #balls #drama #heartfailure #review #runout #sixes #aussiebashing #seriesON #ENGvAUS— Matt Dawson (@matt9dawson) August 25, 2019
Absolutely insane from @benstokes38 - sporting genius— Will Greenwood (@WillGreenwood) August 25, 2019
Ben Stokes produced his second ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ performance of the summer as his magnificent century powered England to an unprecedented, unthinkable one-wicket victory at Headingley to keep the Ashes alive.
Stokes hit 135 not out, channelled the spirit of Sir Ian Botham in 1981 and even eclipsed his match-winning turn in the World Cup final, to lead England to their record chase of 359.
Anything less and Australia would have retained the urn at 2-0 with two to play but what transpired was simply one of the most incredible roars of defiance ever seen on a cricket field, as he led last man Jack Leach in an unbroken stand of 76 for the final wicket.
Stokes hit eight sixes and 11 fours as he instantly laid claim to one of the greatest innings of all time, while Leach’s solitary run was the one that levelled the scores.
The visitors were batting at 185-3 when stumps were drawn on day three with their overall second-innings lead standing at 260. Skipper Kohli will resume his innings from 51 on Day Four while his deputy Rahane will start the day on 53.
Earlier, India had been bowled out for 297 runs in their first innings before their bowlers restricted West Indies to 222.
Will India seize total control of the first Test on Day Four or will the hosts produce a late fightback? Find out by following the ball-by-ball updates from Antigua below.