Sport Cricket Ashes 2019: Australia loses the unlosable as England claims Ashes classic

Ashes 2019: Australia loses the unlosable as England claims Ashes classic

Ben Stokes Ashes
England batsman Ben Stokes and Jack Leach celebrates at the end after hitting the winning runs. Photo: Getty
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A controversial decision denied Australia victory in a thrilling third Test against England in Leeds that will go down as one of the greatest matches in Test history.

Ben Stokes finished on an incredible 135 not out but was trapped in front with just two runs to win as Nathan Lyon appealed long and hard.

The appeal was turned down and Australia, left with no reviews, were forced to accept the decision, made even tougher by replays that showed Stokes was out.

Shortly after, Stokes hammered Pat Cummins for four to seal an incredible one-wicket England victory as the hosts successfully chased down a victory target of 359.

When England’s last batsman, Jack Leach, strode to the crease, the hosts still needed 73 runs for victory.

But Stokes produced an unbelievable innings and also rode his luck in glorious sunshine at Headingley.

After three Tests, the series is now locked at 1-1, Australia only needing to draw the Ashes to retain cricket’s famous urn.

But it had the urn in its grasp when Stuart Broad was dismissed on a tense final day, bringing Leach to the crease with Australia well on top.

The spinner made just one run in his innings as Stokes milked the strike, swung hard and made the most of several let-offs.

The first came when England needed just 17 runs to win as a diving Marcus Harris dropped Stokes at third man.

A run out could also have ended England’s innings, but Lyon fumbled the ball with Leach short of his ground.

And as the match reached its thrilling conclusion, Lyon trapped Stokes in front with just two runs needed to win.

The decision was turned down, though, and the writing was on the wall.

And shortly after Leach finally got off the mark, Stokes plundered Cummins for four to seal a remarkable victory.

“Today has been incredible – still hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” Stokes said afterwards.

“Adrenaline keeps you going. Never [over] until it’s over – that’s what I kept on thinking.”

Australia captain Tim Paine paid his respects to Stokes for his incredible innings.

“It’s hard to take losing from that position, [you have] got to tip your hat sometimes,” he said.

“Probably the best Test innings I’d see, so well played to Ben … we thought we had enough.

“We [thought] we’d create enough chances to win the game, but Ben played unbelievable.”

England’s win means the series is level with two Tests to play and the hosts will welcome back Jimmy Anderson for the fourth Test, which begins in Manchester on September 4.

Australia will also be able to call on a high-profile returning player, Steve Smith set to play after a spell with concussion.

But Smith could have walked into a side that had already retained the Ashes after the final day in Leeds.

England resumed at 3-156 and was patient through the first 20 minutes that did not see a run scored.

Joe Root soon fell, David Warner taking an outstanding catch at first slip to remove the English skipper for 77 off the bowling of Lyon.

Stokes and Bairstow combined for a 86-run partnership, though, the pair taking England to a position of strength at 4-238 at lunch.

Bairstow was particularly aggressive but he fell soon after the interval when he edged Josh Hazlewood to Labuschagne for 36.

Marnus Labuschagne looked dejected after day four of the Ashes Test match. Photo: Getty

A mix-up between Stokes and Jos Buttler then saw the latter run out for one and Hazlewood then added the scalp of Chris Woakes, caught at short cover for one.

Jofra Archer was then caught in the deep for 15 before James Pattinson (1-47) dismissed Stuart Broad lbw for a duck.

All that was left for Australia was one wicket but Stokes rolled the dice and was rewarded for his aggressive, brilliant strokeplay.

And as the runs required steadily reduced, Australia missed several chances, setting the scene for a miraculous home victory.

And while Harris’ dropped chance was a bitter pill to swallow, the missed run out was the moment Australia should have won the Test and, as a result, retained the Ashes.

There was still enough time for one moment of pure heartbreak, too, as Lyon was denied with a lengthy lbw appeal.

Australia would have won the Test if it had have reviewed the decision but had no option to accept the call.

And Australia’s misery was compounded when Stokes sealed victory shortly after, many of the tourists slumping to the ground in shock.

This may have been one of the greatest Tests of all time. But it was also one Australia should have won.

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