Ashes 2019: Ben Stokes plays knock for the ages as England levels series in unbelievable classic

England owes its Ashes hopes to Ben Stokes, who hammered Australia in the most remarkable of circumstances at Headingley.

Ben Stokes hit a hundred to power England to a sensational victory at Headingley.   -  getty images

Ben Stokes played an Ashes knock for the ages as England pulled off one of the greatest comebacks of all time in the third Test to level the series against Australia at 1-1.

England, bowled out for a dismal 67 in an appalling first innings, looked dead and buried at 286-9 in its pursuit of an unlikely 359 on day four at Headingley as Australia had one hand firmly clasped on the urn.

But Stokes clubbed eight sixes and 11 fours in a memorable unbeaten 135 that will go down in the pantheon of great knocks in Test cricket, as England completed its record run chase in five-day cricket.

It evoked memories of Stokes' heroics in the Cricket World Cup final just a month ago, when England defeated New Zealand in a Super Over thriller at Lord's.

 

Just as in that game, there were several near misses in a nerve-wracking encounter that left a raucous crowd holding its breath.

Jack Leach – who gutted out 17 balls for just one run – should have been run out when a throw back to Nathan Lyon was dropped by the spinner with England's number 11 well out of his crease.

Stokes himself looked pinned in front by Lyon, but the on-field decision was not out and with no reviews left Australia had no avenue to contest the call.

But the day belonged to Stokes – who soaked up the adulation of an adoring Leeds crowd – as England kept the Ashes alive in the most remarkable and thrilling of circumstances.