Stokes stuns Aussies as England win Headingley Test

Ben Stokes celebrates England's stunning win.
Ben Stokes celebrates England's stunning win.

Ben Stokes has once again made the unprecedented and unbelievable look easy, reeling in a record-breaking target of 359 to win the third Test by one wicket and rock Australia's hopes of retaining the Ashes.

The tourists came agonisingly close to a 2-0 series lead, which would have ensured Tim Paine became the first touring captain to retain the urn in England since 2001.

Australia, devoid of morale and momentum after Stokes' unbeaten 135 meant England completed their highest chase in Test history, must instead reset with this week's tour game in Derby before the five-Test series continues at Old Trafford on Wednesday week.

England, skittled for 67 in their first dig, required 73 runs from Stokes and Jack Leach's final-wicket stand after a collapse of 5-41 on a topsy-turvy fourth day at Headingley.

Leach scored a single run as Stokes outdid Ian Botham's 1981 Ashes heroics, hogging strike during a six-hitting rampage that featured a couple of chances.

"I wouldn't say we were rattled. No doubt there was pressure," a gutted Paine said.

"It was close, tight. The crowd was loud, that was as hard as it gets for a touring side. Sometimes people make mistakes and we made a couple.

"It cost us the Test match. That and an unbelievable innings.

"We have time now to make sure we stick together, bounce back ... we've been in a position to win every Test in the series.

"We're doing something right, we have to keep believing in that."

The result is a hammer blow to Australia's confidence given pundits were calling for Joe Root to step down as captain after England's shambolic collapse on day two.

Since 1888, no team has won a Test after being bowled out for less than 70.

"It's unbelievable," Stokes said.

"I have to take it all in. I'm not sure that will ever happen again."

Nathan Lyon's final over was Australia's nadir in the nerve-jangling contest.

A terrible mix-up between Stokes and Leach should have resulted in the latter being run out but Lyon fumbled at the non-striker's end when the ball was tossed back to him by Pat Cummins.

Lyon and his 10 teammates went up for a desperate lbw appeal after the next delivery struck Stokes' pad but it was turned down by umpire Joel Wilson.

Stokes would have been out on review but Paine wasted his final referral in the preceding over on a far more optimistic lbw shout from Cummins.

Leach clipped a ball off his hips to level the scores then Stokes cracked Cummins' next ball through the covers to level the series, triggering wild scenes from the delirious allrounder, crowd and dressing room.

"'It's going to sting," Paine said.

England had never hauled in a target higher than 332 to win a Test, while Don Bradman's 1948 Invincibles had been the only team to chase down more than 342 to win a Test in England.

England had been 17 runs away from victory when Marcus Harris dropped a diving catch in the deep offered by Stokes.

Josh Hazlewood, who snared match figures of 9-115, shifted momentum by snapping Stokes' 86-run stand with Jonny Bairstow then Travis Head's composed fielding helped snag two wickets before an epic finish.

Australian Associated Press