Ben Stokes has been the talk of the country in the last few days.
The football season may be back, but the sport headlines this week are being dominated by cricket and, more specifically, Ben Stokes.
The Ashes moved on to Headingley last week, with England trailing 1-0 from two matches. To avoid the urn being retained by Australia, England had to win in Leeds.
Having been bowled all out for 67 in the first innings, all hope seemed lost. England needed a record 359 runs to win the game, and needed a hero to step up.
Captain Joe Root posted a vital 77, and whilst there were contributions from other players, Stokes grabbed the headlines with an innings described by some as the greatest of all time.
When England’s ninth wicket fell, they were 286-8, 73 runs away from the win. With final batsman Jack Leach coming to the crease alongside Stokes, it looked like Australia had the win wrapped up.
However, Stokes went into machine mode, just as he did to save the World Cup final. Stokes attacked Australia, hammering bowlers all over Leeds as Leach mere blocked and defended at the other end.
16 runs off three balls from Josh Hazlewood suddenly left England needing just 21 to win. Another two fours and a six left England on the verge, and when Leach finally picked up his first run to get Stokes on strike, he smashed another four to seal a dramatic, almost impossible win.
There were let-offs along the way; Stokes was dropped from a miscued shot, Nathan Lyon fumbled the ball when it was easier to run Leach out, and Stokes avoided a LBW disaster from a late Lyon delivery.
Stokes’ gargantuan performance has been hailed ever since Sunday afternoon, and he has now been shown a video of Tottenham fans celebrating the win before their Premier League game with Newcastle United.
Stokes – born in New Zealand – has admitted to Sky Sports that he has been searching for a football team to support, so may now have to pick Tottenham having seen how passionate their fans were about cricket, even when watching the game inside a football stadium.
“I’ve been looking for a football team to support to be honest,” said Stokes. “I don’t [support anyone], but I might have to support Tottenham now.”
“I think so,” he added when asked whether it feels surreal to see football fans celebrating his heroics. “Especially considering how much football means to England, that cricket is managing to do this, to take football fans away from what they do to what we do. I’m a Spur now!”