Cricket Expert & Columnist
Ashes 2019: Ben Stokes' Headingley innings the most remarkable I've seen, says Nasser Hussain
"We could be going into the next 10 days of cricket with the Ashes already gone, but instead you've got the best cricketers coming back in, two great venues and with everything on the line," says Nasser Hussain
Last Updated: 29/08/19 6:49pm
Nasser Hussain has described Ben Stokes' hundred and England's thrilling win in the third Ashes Test at Headingley as "the most remarkable innings I've ever witnessed".
Stokes struck a sensational 135 not out as England chased down 359, almost single-handedly dragging the team to victory after being joined by last-man Jack Leach with 73 runs still needed.
Leach hung around for 17 deliveries, scoring one crucial run to level the scores, while Stokes teed off at the other end, smashing as many as seven sixes and four boundaries over the next 10 overs.
Hussain reflected on the incredible events of Sunday at Headingley when talking on the latest Will Greenwood Podcast.
"In years to come, people will ask - like they did with Ian Botham in '81, and Edgbaston '05 - where were you when Ben Stokes did what he did in 2019?" said Hussain
"The thrill was being there. It was just a privilege to be in the commentary box, to be honest with you.
"It was the most remarkable hour, remarkable day, remarkable innings I've ever witnessed.
"The moment where you thought 'oh, wow' was the switch-hit off Nathan Lyon into the Western Terrace.
"I can't tell you the degree of difficulty playing a shot like that - in a T20 game, let alone a Test match, with everyone out on the boundary.
"You could slowly see from that moment that Australia were starting to think 'crikey, this lad can do anything, if he can do that'. Also, he went four, six, six off Josh Hazlewood.
"Once it got down to single-figures, you knew Stokes could do it. Australia had to stop the momentum and never did."
'You knew with Ben there, there was a chance'
While Hussain could not foresee the incredible finish to the game, he did hold out hopes for England to chase down the runs heading into that fourth day at Headingley - at which point Stokes had only two runs from 50 balls.
"Even the day before I thought, if they were chasing 300, I gave them a chance," said Hussain.
"People used to look at 300 in the last innings and think, no-one's going to do that, but the pitch at Headingley just gets better and better.
"When Australia got up to a lead of 358 - England's highest-ever run-chase - then you're thinking differently.
"But on the third day when they went out to bat, you looked at that surface and thought 'they've got a chance here'.
"It's the hope that kills you. They were going very well, but you know there is going to be a collapse at some stage - that's not just England, there always is when you're chasing a massive score - and it came.
"But I have to say - and this is not being wise after the event - that, having seen Ben play the way he did in that World Cup final, you just knew that while he was there, there was a chance.
"It was just a case of could anyone stay with him to give him that chance? Luckily, Leach did that.
"Even saying all that, with 73 still needed to win, nine down, you're thinking the Ashes are gone.
"That's the other unique thing about it; this wasn't just a one-off game, Stokes was doing this with the Ashes literally on the line."
'The Ashes are well and truly alive'
Stokes' heroics means the series is now tied at 1-1 with two Tests to play, starting at Old Trafford on Wednesday, September 4 - live on Sky Sports.
"If England start well, then however tough you are, Australia will think 'I wish we wrapped this up at Headingley'," added Hussain. "But I'm not a massive believer in momentum. If you go out there and play well, you can easily turn things around.
"Steve Smith coming back is a massive, massive bonus for Australia, but he has got his own demons to face in Jofra Archer and the short ball, especially on the quickest pitch on the circuit in Old Trafford. The rumours are Jimmy Anderson might be coming back for England too.
"Australia have to win just one of the two Tests to retain the Ashes, and England still have a flaky batting line-up but, because of one individual in Stokes - like I said on commentary - the Ashes are well and truly alive.
"We could be going into the next 10 days of cricket with the Ashes already gone, but instead you've got the best cricketers coming back in, two great venues in Old Trafford and The Oval, and with everything on the line."
LISTEN TO THE WILL GREENWOOD PODCAST HERE for more from Hussain, including:
- His switch from playing to the commentary box
- Steve Smith's likely return for the fourth Ashes Test and his brilliance
- His advice for the England Rugby World Cup squad heading for Japan
- Plus, hear Rupert Cox and Greenwood discuss the state of play in England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland ahead of the World Cup, look at South Africa's bad press, the confirmed 31-man All Blacks squad, and hear from James Haskell after his shock career change into the world of MMA.
Watch day one of the fourth Ashes Test live on Sky Sports The Ashes and Sky Sports Main Event from 10am on Wednesday, September 4, with over-by-over commentary and in-play clips on skysports.com and the Sky Sports app.