Stokes does a Botham, former & current stars praise effort

Leeds, Aug 26 (IANS) Ben Stokes' epic unbeaten knock of 135, which helped England level the Ashes series in remarkable fashion, has floored his England colleagues past and present who waxed praises on the all-rounder.

Former England captain Nasser Hussain tweeted after the game: "You cannot do that Ben Stokes ..."

England started the fourth day looking to prevent Australia from retaining the Ashes. They got to 286/9, still needing 73 runs for an improbable victory. But World Cup hero Stokes joined hands with number 11 batsman Jack Leach and did the unthinkable by smashing eight sixes to all corners of the ground and helped England get to touching distance of their highest-ever second-innings total to win a Test match.

"I'm not sure I've seen anything better than that on a Test ground," Australian great Ricky Ponting said as quoted by Sky.

"Some of that hitting today was just brilliant, but also the decision-making under the most extreme pressure."

Stokes, in the process, matched Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff's feats in 1981 and 2005 respectively.

Botham took six wickets in the first innings of the third Ashes Test and scored a 50 with the bat. In the second essay, slammed a match-winning 149 not out to turn the tables on Australia as they won by 18 runs.

Flintoff scored 68 and 73 in both innings of the second Test in 2005 and picked up seven wickets to help England win by two runs in an epic contest.

"I rate our chances very highly," said Joe Denly as quoted by Sky.

"There is a lot of belief in that changing room and excitement going into tomorrow."

"Incredible," said Stuart Broad, moments after England clinched the craziest of victories. "The bloke has got the heart of a lion.

"He didn't celebrate his fifty, didn't celebrate his hundred. It was just all about winning this Test match. He deserves everything that comes his way."

"Not all Test wins are equal," said Atherton. "The Edgbaston game in 2005 switched the narrative of that series, with England riding a tidal wave to Old Trafford, Trent Bridge and The Oval.

"I just feel it is going to be mentally very difficult for Australia to recover from this. A game they had nailed, that they should've won and had opportunities to win. Psychologically, that's hard to come back from."

--IANS

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