England hail ‘Special One’ Stokes after Headingley miracle
LONDON: England hailed a new Ashes hero for the ages on Monday after Ben Stokes dragged his country from the point of defeat to a narrow victory over Australia with an innings that almost defied belief.
All the English newspapers carried a picture of the all-rounder celebrating his winning runs at a sun-bathed Headingley on their front pages, with The Sun splashing “Go Urn My Son!” and the Daily Telegraph “Howzat!”.
Ian Botham’s unbeaten 149 at the same ground 38 years ago has long stood as the gold standard of an English Ashes performance but there were plenty of suggestions that it had been eclipsed.
Former test opener turned pundit Geoffrey Boycott, never one to readily suggest the game was better now than it was in his heyday, certainly thought so and described Sunday as the best cricketing moment he had witnessed in half a century.
Botham himself described Stokes as “The Special One” and Michael Atherton, another former England captain, said the unbeaten 135 was “one of the greatest test innings.”
“It was a combination of all sorts of things, craft, skill, versatility and most of all, an ‘over my dead body’ attitude without which you are not a great player,” he added.
Lawrence Booth, the Wisden editor, ranked it in the top five innings in the 137-year history of the Ashes, while former Guardian cricket correspondent and test cricketer Mike Selvey admitted it had reduced him to tears.
Some in the media were not happy restricting themselves to cricket, with Leo McKinstry in The Daily Mail saying the victory highlighted “timeless British virtues, such as stoicism in the face of daunting odds.”