Cricket Expert & Columnist
Ashes Debate Podcast: Bob Willis says England's third Test win eclipses miracle of Headingley 1981
"A remarkable innings from a remarkable cricketer"; listen to Willis discuss Stokes' third Test heroics at Headingley on the Ashes Debate Podcast
Last Updated: 26/08/19 11:50am
England's exhilarating victory at Headingley eclipses the miracle of 1981, says Bob Willis.
Chasing down 359 to win and keep the Ashes alive after being bowled out for 67 in the first innings - that's a story you'd find hard to believe in a comic strip.
It was amazing to witness and will live long in the memory.
Quite how Ben Stokes had the strength to play an innings like that after his heroics in the World Cup and subsequent Tests was something else.
Naturally, his unbeaten 135 will be compared to Ian Botham's 149 at Headingley 38 years ago - and let me tell you that Ben's is the better knock.
Ian's started off as an outrageous slog with edges off the seam bowlers. Kim Hughes should have bowled the spinner Ray Bright earlier, and Ian would have hit one up in the air.
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In contrast, Ben looked so composed - he knew when to press the accelerator, and he knew when to encourage his tail-enders at the other end.
He played some outrageous strokes towards the end, displaying immense confidence. Some of the shots that Stokes played today hadn't been invented when Ian was playing!
I don't think it was more by accident than design that those sixes only just carried over the boundary; he was in complete control. Yes, he had to accelerate to get England down from needing 60-odd to 20-odd, but he didn't panic at any stage.
It was a remarkable innings from a remarkable cricketer, and it means the Ashes are very much up for grabs.
Also on the Ashes Debate agenda:
- Listen to interviews with England skipper Joe Root and man-of-the-match Stokes
- Bob and Alec Stewart share their thoughts on where Stokes' innings ranks in the great Test innings of all time
- The pair discuss who should open in the fourth Test, and whether Jos Buttler should be below Jonny Bairstow in the order
- Where Australia got it all wrong as the pressure mounted, and more questions about the quality of umpiring
Watch day one of the fourth Ashes Test between England and Australia, at Old Trafford, live on Sky Sports The Ashes from 10am on Wednesday, September 4.