Ben Stokes produces Headingley miracle to haul England back from the brink and keep Ashes alive

Alistair Tweedale
Headingley erupts as Ben Stokes hits the winning runs for England - Action Images via Reuters

Ben Stokes produced his second 'once-in-a-lifetime' performance of the summer as his magnificent century powered England to an unprecedented, unthinkable one-wicket victory at Headingley to keep the Ashes alive.

Stokes hit 135 not out, channelled the spirit of Sir Ian Botham in 1981 and even eclipsed his match-winning turn in the World Cup final, to lead England to their record chase of 359.

Anything less and Australia would have retained the urn at 2-0 with two to play but what transpired was simply one of the most incredible roars of defiance ever seen on a cricket field, as he led last man Jack Leach in an unbroken stand of 76 for the final wicket.

Stokes hit eight sixes and 11 fours as he instantly laid claim to one of the greatest innings of all time, while Leach's solitary run was the one that levelled the scores.

The last half-hour of play could, and probably will fill books given time, but while a sold-out crowd allowed themselves to be whipped into a frenzy by the sheer implausibility of what they were witnessing, Stokes kept a relentless focus at the eye of the storm.

Australia had two chances to snatch a famous win of their own in the 125th over of an epic innings, but they instead go down as footnotes in Stokes' story. With England still one run behind, Nathan Lyon dropped a throw from Pat Cummins at the bowler's end when a clean take would have allowed him to easily run out the over-exuberant Leach with ease.

Stokes aimed a big slog-sweep at the very next delivery, missing but given not out by umpire Joel Wilson. Replays showed he was bang to rights but Australia had frittered away their last review in the previous over on a hopeless shout against Leach.

Three balls later the number 11 fended Cummins to leg for one, guaranteeing a tie, leaving the stage for Stokes. He did not linger, planting Cummins through the covers for a majestic winning boundary before letting loose a guttural roar that will echo all the way from Manchester to Melbourne.

Report from PA


Hard to disagree with this


Not sure when this one will sink in, to be honest


Ben Stokes

is unsurprisingly named man of the match. 

Stokes celebrates hitting the winning runs Credit: AFP
Credit: Getty Images
Stokes takes the plaudits as he walks off the pitch Credit: Getty images


Joe Root's thoughts

We said at the start of the day we had to just keep believing while we had two players out there.

We've witnessed some incredible things this summer and I wouldn't have expected to see something else so similar after the World Cup. I can't put into word what Ben has done out there.

He's shown you should never give up while you're still in the game.


Aussie captain Tim Paine talks

It's hard to take, but you've got to tip your hat sometimes. Ben Stokes played a great innings and you've got to hand it to him. It's probably the best Test innings I've ever seen.

With Ben at the crease you're always worried. There's always things you could do differently, we had opportunities but this is a test of character. It's one game, it's not the end of the world and we'll be back for the next one. We're here to win the series.


Nail on head, Justin.


You said it, Ben


The winning moment


What a performance

Seriously, if you thought what Stokes did in the World Cup final was good, this was something else. He didn't celebrate his 50, he didn't celebrate his century, and finally he has the chance to enjoy himself. That is one of the great knocks, and under such pressure. I cannot believe it. Just sensational.



Ben Stokes what a man you are. He crashes a drive through the covers and England have won at Headingley and kept the Ashes 2019 alive against all odds.


126.3 overs: ENG 358/9 (Stokes 131*, Leach 1*) - target 359  

Leach dodges one, flicks another around the corner but there's a fielder there. Then he pushes into a gap and they run the single that ties the game - and keeps the series alive! ENGLAND NEED ONE RUN TO WIN. Stokes on strike.



And Jack Leach is on strike.


OVER 125: ENG 357/9 (Stokes 131*, Leach 0*) - target 359 

Ball one: dot

Ball two: dot

Ball three: Big hit, there's a man in the deep! I think my heart stopped while this was in the air, and it flies over the rope!!  Six runs!

Ball four: dot

Ball five:  Ben Stokes reverse sweeps, Leach goes for the single but Stokes isn't interested, Leach it absolutely miles out of his ground as the throw comes in.

FUMBLE!!!! OH MY GOD THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE! Lyon doesn't take the ball in and England survive! What on earth is happening!

Ball six: Sweep attempt, huge lbw shout. It's got to be out but Umpire Wilson says no, and Australia have no review left. And look at this. He would have been out.



OVER 124: ENG 351/9 (Stokes 125*, Leach 0*) - target 359

Stokes spoons a horrible miscue up to third man. Harris comes charging in to take the catch, but he spills it!

Then he swivels and goes for another big shot on the other side, Warner dives after it on the rope but can't get there and it bounces under him for four!

AND THEN ANOTHER! What a shot this is down the ground. Back of a length and Stokes swipes at it and what a connection! It flies back past the umpire's feet and to the rope for four! Are England actually going to do this?!

Stokes then takes a single to leave Leach facing two Cummins balls. England need eight runs to win the Test, Australia need one wicket to retain the Ashes. This is just the most riveting end to a Test match possible.

The fielders come in for Leachy. Big bouncer, he avoids it well. Stokes is out on his legs at the other end. A yorker, it hits Leach but umpire Wilson says no. It's pitched outside leg, surely. Yep.

Leach not out


OVER 123: ENG 342/9 (Stokes 116*, Leach 0*) - target 359      

Lyon to bowl, Stokes tries a reverse sweep, misses it, Paine appeals for a catch behind, Joel Wilson says no.

Lyon is just putting them out wide to Stokes, who can't do anything with it.

They run one off the penultimate ball. One more ball for Leach to face... and he blocks it out brilliantly.



OVER 122: ENG 341/9 (Stokes 115*, Leach 0*) - target 359     

What a shot from Ben Stokes and he has his century. A baseball swing through midwicket for four.. but he doesn't care AT ALL. He raises a hand but he isn't interested in his own achievements, this is all about the team.

Ohhhh my god!! Then he smashes a full toss for six over two fielders on the rope! And then he does it again!!! 4, 6, 6 off this over!

Stokes is then so so clever, nudging down to third man and they run two. Then he takes a single off the fifth ball. Leach has one ball to face. The field comes in. It's too straight from Hazlewood, and it misses leg stump. ENGLAND NEED 18 RUNS TO WIN.


OVER 121: ENG 322/9 (Stokes 96*, Leach 0*) - target 359    

Cummins around the wicket to Stokes, who has spotted an opportunity on the leg side. He prods into it and the batsmen are on their way, and they get back for two.

Then he scoops over his head and it goes all the way for six!

Marcus Harris then throws to the wrong end with Stokes coming back for a second run, when he would have been miles out of his ground. What an opportunity that was for Australia.

Leach shuts out the final ball. England are 37 runs from victory.


OVER 120: ENG 311/9 (Stokes 85*, Leach 0*) - target 359   

Stokes hits into the deep and wants two but they only make one. Leach could face four Pattinson deliveries.

He gets slapped on the gloves first ball and that might shake him up for the next three. He shuts out the next one, and another, and another! 


OVER 119: ENG 310/9 (Stokes 84*, Leach 0*) - target 359  

Stokes knows he has to go after Lyon and he does just that. Big swing down the ground.. and there's a man out there. Hazlewood races after it but he can't get there and it goes over the rope for six! And that's the 300 for England!

And then Stokes does an incredible Kevin Pietersen impression with a switch hit over deep midwicket for another six!

He somehow sneaks a single from the final ball, too, and England are 49 from victory

Stokes is taking the fight to Australia Credit: Getty images


OVER 118: ENG 297/9 (Stokes 71*, Leach 0*) - target 359 

Pattinson to Stokes now. 66 needed for victory.

Stokes smacks through midwicket and to a fielder in the deep, but decides not to run. Then he misses the next one and ludicrously Warner is appealing for a catch behind. Then a gift - a wide!

Stokes cuts into a gap and they race back for two runs, and then edges a wild swing to third man for a single... Jack Leach has the strike for one ball. And he dodges the bouncer really well. 


OVER 117: ENG 293/9 (Stokes 67*, Leach 0*) - target 359

Stokes tries a reverse sweep but gets it all wrong. He misses and might well have been trapped lbw were it not for the slightest tickle off his glove.

Then a huge shot, a big old six down the ground from Stokes!

Can he get a single off the final ball? Yes he can. What an innings this has been.


OVER 116: ENG 286/9 (Stokes 60*, Leach 0*) - target 359   

Jack Leach, England's hero against Ireland, is England's final hope. He has four Pattinson balls to survive here. He does really well to dig out a yorker and see off the other three. On we go. Time for Stokes to start swinging, presumably.


WICKET Broad lbw b Pattinson 0

Broad is given out

No bottom edge here and Broad has to go. Fow 286/9




Pattinson hits Broad low down with a beauty of a yorker and the umpire gives him out. Broad reviews! A huge moment, this.


OVER 115: ENG 286/8 (Stokes 60*, Broad 0*) - target 359  

Stuart Broad is the new man. Bizarrely he has a wool vest on in 30 degree heat.


WICKET! Archer c Head b Lyon 15

Archer decides to go after Lyon now - he has some joy with successive fours but they are very risky shots indeed. 

Stokes then has a word with Archer, who then shuts out two more balls but then he slog sweeps another and Travis Head on the rope takes the catch with a nifty little move to throw it up to himself as he steps over the boundary. England are really up against it now. Awful decision making again the issue. Fow 286/8


OVER 114: ENG 277/7 (Stokes 60*, Archer 7*) - target 359 

Pattinson gets a run at Archer, who just cannot leave the ball alone. He goes after one straying down leg and very nearly tickles it through to the keeper.


OVER 113: ENG 277/7 (Stokes 60*, Archer 7*) - target 359

Lyon back on. Two slips and a silly point for Stokes. Prods a single backward of square.

Jofra swipes wildly at one and gets a horrible connection on it, but it lands safe!

Then Stokes comes to the pitch of the ball and smacks down the ground for four!

Archer is still standing... but it hasn't been the most convincing start Credit: Reuters


OVER 112: ENG 271/7 (Stokes 55*, Archer 6*) - target 359 

First ball from Pattinson and Archer edges it but it doesn't quite carry to Warner at first slip. He then tries to hook one and completely misses it, with his head all over the place. He survives, though, and that all that matters.


OVER 111: ENG 271/7 (Stokes 55*, Archer 6*) - target 359

Pat Cummins, on for Lyon, has potentially six balls to bowl at Archer, now.

Short and wide - and Archer swats it away for four! What a shot! 

Then nearly another mix up... but after Stokes sends Archer back and he in his well within his ground, a direct hit from Travis Head ricochets into some space and they get the single. ENGLAND NEED 88 TO WIN


OVER 110: ENG 266/7 (Stokes 55*, Archer 1*) - target 359

Pattinson comes on for Hazelwood. Stokes still doesn't look keen to give Archer the strike but he can't protect him too much. Eventually Jofra gets on strike and guides a shot to fine leg. Stokes then takes two - rather than one - off the final ball, reminding us all there is still a run chase on!


OVER 109: ENG 262/7 (Stokes 52*, Archer 0*) - target 359     

Big inside edge from Archer, onto pad and it goes into the air, high... and over short leg to safety! Otherwise, five good defensive shots from Jofra, and Stokes will be on strike next over.


OVER 108: ENG 262/7 (Stokes 52*, Archer 0*) - target 359    

Hazlewood to Stokes, who isn't too keen on singles right now... until the last ball of the over, that is, when he thinks about trying to keep the strike when there just isn't a run there. Good on Jofra, for sending Stokes back safely.


OVER 107: ENG 262/7 (Stokes 52*, Archer 0*) - target 359   

Stokes takes a single off the fourth ball, and Australia bring the field in for new man Jofra Archer. First ball: forward defensive. Second ball: forward defensive. And that's over.


OVER 106: ENG 261/7 (Stokes 51*, Archer 0*) - target 359  

Jofra Archer, Test average nine but huge, huge, potential, is the next man in.


WICKET! Woakes c Wade b Hazlewood 1

Hazlewood has Woakes on strike, and his ploy is immediately obvious: short and fast. Woakes does well to get himself out of the way... but then he is so concentrated on avoiding the bouncers that he isn't really thinking about what to do with a full delivery. He should leave the final ball of the over alone but drives and hits it straight to Matthew Wade at short extra cover. Fow 261/7


OVER 105: ENG 261/6 (Stokes 51*, Woakes 1*) - target 359 

Ben Stokes reaches his half century - what an innings this has been. 152 balls - a strike rate of 33.6. He doesn't even stop to raise his bat to the crowd. His eyes are firmly on the prize. No time for individual celebrations and rightly so.


OVER 104: ENG 259/6 (Stokes 49*, Woakes 1*) - target 359

The Headingley crowd are enjoying themselves, and sound like they still think England have a chance in this one. Woakes takes one, Stokes another. ENGLAND ARE 100 RUNS FROM VICTORY.


OVER 103: ENG 257/6 (Stokes 48*, Woakes 0*) - target 359     

Short and wide from Lyon and Stokes, in this form, will always give England a glimmer of hope. He swats this one away for four.


WICKET! Buttler run out (Head) 1

Oh wow. What a mess, England. What a mess. They've worked so, so hard to get to this position, and then go and serve up the easiest wicket Australia will take this series.

Stokes prods to midwicket, calls a single but then sends Buttler back. A direct hit from Travis Head with Buttler way, way out of his ground and Australia are four wickets from victory. Fow 253/6


OVER 102: ENG 253/5 (Stokes 44*, Buttler 1*) - target 359    

Very, very good shot from Ben Stokes. Short from Hazlewood, and Stokes swivels and hooks with real venom for four through square leg. 250 up for England.


OVER 101: ENG 248/5 (Stokes 38*, Buttler 1*) - target 359    

Buttler inside edges Lyon horribly but it misses the stumps. Off the mark but not at all convincingly.


OVER 100: ENG 245/5 (Stokes 37*, Buttler 0*) - target 359   

There is a very specific plan for Hazlewood to Buttler. He got him out in the first innings - caught by Khawaja with Buttler trying to cover drive - and is trying to do the same again here. Jos refuses to bite.


Another Archer gem from the archives


WICKET! Bairstow c Labuschagne b Hazlewood 36

Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Oh, dear. 

A slip in concentration from Bairstow and he tries to cut a wide one that was there to be hit but succeeds only in edging to Labuschagne at second slip. The Bairstow-Stokes partnership is broken after an 86-run stand. Fow 245/5


OVER 99: ENG 245/4 (Stokes 37*, Bairstow 36*) - target 359  

A huge missed chance, here! Stoke edges Lyon, it's low to Warner's left but he doesn't get down quick enough and misses it! To rub salt in the wound, it goes for four!


OVER 98: ENG 241/4 (Stokes 33*, Bairstow 36*) - target 359 

Words between Bairstow and Paine after that incident, the Aussies are trying to get under the batsmen's skin. 

Hazlewood thinks he might have Bairstow again with his final ball but there's an inside edge.

I love these old Jofra tweets that are resurfacing.



Hazlewood comes on for the first over after lunch from the Football Stand End, and he thinks he has Bairstow caught behind. It doesn't seem like a convincing appeal, but Joel Wilson's finger goes up!

Bairstow reviews immediately - and ultra edge saves him! There's no edge and Bairstow survives! 

Not out!


OVER 97: ENG 239/4 (Stokes 32*, Bairstow 35*) - target 359

A bit of early turn for Lyon, but then Bairstow doesn't quite pick up too short a ball. He goes after it but doesn't time it right and gets just a single down to square leg.


Nathan Lyon will get the afternoon session under way

England's short-term target has to be getting through the first half hour or so unscathed.


Surely not... right?


Our man on the ground

makes Australia still favourites to win this.

A couple of minutes until the afternoon session begins.



Well, well, well. Overnight it very much seemed like all of England's hopes rested with Joe Root, but after his gut-wrenching dismissal early on this morning, it then looked as though Australia would rattle through the wickets they needed to retain the Ashes.

But momentum has swung back England's way and they are now just 121 runs away from saving the series - for now - with a sensational comeback and victory in this Test.

Bairstow and Stokes have swung the match back England's way Credit: Reuters

Ben Stokes has been patiently brilliant, but Jonny Bairstow's counter-attacking has swung this match back England's way. What a session that was. The next one is shaping up to be even better.


LUNCH: ENG 238/4 (Stokes 32*, Bairstow 34*) - target 359

A short wide one first up is pushed onto the off side by Bairstow for a single. Labuschagne not a front-line bowler but he's half-decent, for sure, with a handful of Test wickets in his handful of matches. And 49 first-class wickets as well. Stokes, too, picks up a single but on the leg side. Two balls to go...

Bairstow pushes defensively onto the off side, going forward. One ball to go. A short one goes through the covers for a single and that's lunch. The Headingley crowd applaud enthusiastically (in the extreme) for this partnership and the current match situation. England are in this game. 82 runs for 1 wicket in the session. 121 further runs required...

Back to Ali Tweedale. 


OVER 95: ENG 235/4 (Stokes 31*, Bairstow 32*) - target 359

Lyon resumes to Stokes and that fills me with more than a little fear. Not because Stokes looks dodgy against him but because of the huge turn that Lyon is getting every now and then. This should be the penultimate over before lunch. England might just be the marginal favourites now - or even close to it - but one wicket changes that all. As the runs required total slips down, every mistake, every run, every bit of luck is magnified. A Nathan Lyon maiden. England have one over to get through until lunch. Australia have dragged it back a bit now, two maidens in a row. 

Nathan Lyon has been causing problems for Ben Stokes Credit: AP

Marnus Labuschagne to bowl the final over before lunch..


OVER 94: ENG 235/4 (Stokes 31*, Bairstow 32*) - target 359

Bairstow continues to leave well outside off to the seamers. Matt Prior is all of us right now. 

What a Test match this is turning into. Even if England don't do it.  A maiden from Cummins without too much threat, to be honest. A few too many too far outside off. Current partnership is 76 from 101. 


OVER 93: ENG 235/4 (Stokes 31*, Bairstow 32*) - target 359

Lyon causing absolute havoc here, he's not even spinning it out of the rough but it's turning miles past Stokes's outside edge off the pitch. Good news for England is that someone around the sightscreen is upsetting the batsman's vision. Turns out it's a watch, which is duly covered with a t-shirt. Brilliant.  Stokes makes it off strike with a single on the leg side, leaving Bairstow to face two. Again he sweeps through deep square leg, this time for four!  Shot.

He survives a slightly scary moment as an inside edge loops up onto his pad but evades the reach of short leg. Not sure if it definitely took the edge, there, but it was given as a run. 


OVER 92: ENG 229/4 (Stokes 30*, Bairstow 27*) - target 359

The last 10 overs have gone for 62 runs with no wickets to fall. Given how hard it was for England to score yesterday evening and in the opening 40 minutes today, that has shifted the balance of power to England, who CricViz have as narrow favourites. Amazing to think that they've got themselves into this position at all, really. 

Pat Cummins continues to bowl to Bairstow and is keeping it fairly tight. A snorter rises off a length and Bairstow just manages to keep his bat inside it off the final ball. A maiden. England's task now is getting to lunch with only four wickets down. I am a little nervous about that prospect...


OVER 91: ENG 229/4 (Stokes 30*, Bairstow 27*) - target 359 

Afternoon all. Quite a turnaround in the last 40 or so minutes, eh? Nathan Lyon is coming back into the attack, after fewer than 10 overs of the new ball. That in itself is an achievement for England. Bairstow seems to want to keep the positivity and the runs flowing as he gets down to sweep but only for a single. With the rough outside off you'd expect Lyon to prefer to be bowling at Ben Stokes. A couple of ripping deliveries past his outside edge...

Just a single to Bairstow off the over, Australia really need to restrict the runs now. 


OVER 90: ENG 228/4 (Stokes 30*, Bairstow 26*) - target 359   

Cummins comes on and first ball it steered over fine leg for six! He is set and will really, truly have Australia worrying now that the runs are starting to flow. After taking 83 balls to reach 10 runs he is all of a sudden on 30!

England's chances are on the rise... It's the hope that kills you.

Time to hand over to Luke Slater. Enjoy!


OVER 89: ENG 220/4 (Stokes 23*, Bairstow 26*) - target 359  

What a gorgeous shot from Stokes, here, a bit of width from Pattinson and he cuts it brilliantly for four.

After nine overs, 53 runs and little encouragement for the bowlers, is time for Nathan Lyon?


OVER 88: ENG 215/4 (Stokes 18*, Bairstow 26*) - target 359 

Soft hands from Bairstow and and a thick edge goes square. These two are just so quick between the wickets and they get two from it. 

The new ball isn't doing much at all today. The conditions are in England's favour.


OVER 87: ENG 212/4 (Stokes 17*, Bairstow 24*) - target 359

NOT the most convincing shot ever as Bairstow pushes at and thick edges into the air for a couple of runs that bring up England's 200. Too straight then from Pattinson and Bairstow just lets it brush his thigh pad and race away fine for four leg byes.

Then a horrible ball that starts wide and swings ever wider - it ends up going through David Warner's legs at first slip and through for five wides. Bairstow adds two more and that brings up the 50 partnership!

Stokes and Bairstow are giving England hope again Credit: Getty Images

England are now within 150 runs of victory... is it time to start believing again? 


OVER 86: ENG 199/4 (Stokes 17*, Bairstow 20*) - target 359

Oh delightful shot, this, from Jonny Bairstow. A straight drive as good as you'll see back down the ground for four of what wasn't a terrible ball from Hazelwood. 

He then gets one to come back at Stokes, but it has veered too far down leg to trap him leg before. Stokes does a decent Bairstow impression with a straight drive of his own, but he only gets two runs.


OVER 85: ENG 192/4 (Stokes 15*, Bairstow 15*) - target 359 

After a short break for drinks, Stokes cuts a short, wide ball from Cummins but top edges high over the slip cordon for four. The result Stokes wanted, but not quite what he meant...

He is into double figures. Off 83 balls. Sensational stuff.


OVER 84: ENG 186/4 (Stokes 9*, Bairstow 15*) - target 359

Much, much, much better from Bairstow, who this time actually moves his feet and drives beautifully through the covers for four. The Aussies are glad to see Bairstow playing at balls outside off, though, and he edges the very next ball, but it races down to third man for four more.

Bairstow and Stokes have been quick between the wickets this morning Credit: AP


OVER 83: ENG 176/4 (Stokes 9*, Bairstow 7*) - target 359  

Cummins again. Bairstow blocks, leaves, blocks, and then tries to cut a ball that is far too close to him and very nearly inside edges it. 

Cummins then comes around the wicket to Stokes, who swivels on his back foot and spoons it hiiiiiiigh up in the air. A collective groan goes up around Headingley as the man at midwicket races into the deep underneath it... but it lands safe. Heart-in-mouth stuff.


OVER 82: ENG 173/4 (Stokes 7*, Bairstow 6*) - target 359 

Hazlewood is bowling brilliantly this morning, and he cuts Bairstow in half with a beauty that seams ever so slightly away and just misses the edge. 

He then hits Bairstow on the pads and the batsmen race through for two, before Hazelwood follows up with a wide! Maybe I spoke too soon!

Bairstow tickles one fine which is saved on the rope and the batsmen scuttle between the wickets for three lightning-quick runs. 


OVER 81: ENG 167/4 (Stokes 7*, Bairstow 3*) - target 359

Pat Cummins is on and after two looseners with the old nut he takes the new ball. Jonny Bairstow will face it.

A short ball kicks up viciously at YJB and catches him on the glove. They run through for a single, and Stokes sees out the over.


OVER 80: ENG 166/4 (Stokes 7*, Bairstow 2*) - target 359   

Lyon bowls the final over before the new ball, and Ben Stokes does what Root failed so terribly at, getting to the pitch of the ball and clipping through midwicket for the first four in 19 overs!

The second new ball is available...


OVER 79: ENG 161/4 (Stokes 3*, Bairstow 1*) - target 359  

Michael Holding makes a very good point that England's slow scoring has been putting no pressure on the Australian bowlers this morning, which in turn brings pressure on the batsmen. England have to start thinking about playing some shots, and getting the Aussies worried. The get only one leg bye off this Pattinson over.


OVER 78: ENG 160/4 (Stokes 3*, Bairstow 1*) - target 359 

Jonny Bairstow is now England's hero-in-waiting out in the middle. He needs more of his Lord's form, and then some, here.


WICKET! Root c Warner b Lyon 77

Nathan Lyon comes on and he has the breakthrough! An absolutely colossal moment as Root tries to turn it away through the leg side but he inside edges onto his pad, past keeper Tim Paine, and David Warner dives acrobatically behind the keeper to take a wonderful catch. Game over? Fow 159/4


OVER 77: ENG 157/3 (Root 77*, Stokes 2*) - target 359

England have their first run of the day as Root does what he does best and nudges into a gap close in and races through for a single that few others would see.

Pattinson then beats Stokes with an absolute beauty from the final ball of the over. It's nerve-wracking stuff, this. 


OVER 76: ENG 156/3 (Root 75*, Stokes 2*) - target 359

Shane Warne on the commentary is getting excited, saying three maidens in a row mean Australia are likely to be closing in on a wicket. After four dot balls, Stokes takes an almighty 90mph blow to the helmet as he tries to hook Hazlewood, but doesn't pick it up and completely misses it. It is made to look even worse by the stem guard coming flying off.

Stokes takes a blow to the head Credit: Sky Sports

There is immediate concern and the medical staff come on but Stokes looks remarkably unflustered and is quickly back to his crease, and ready for the final ball of the over... which he leaves alone. Well played.

That's four maidens this morning.


OVER 75: ENG 156/3 (Root 75*, Stokes 2*) - target 359  

Testing line and length from Pattinson to Root. A couple jag back in at him but Root manages to get some back on ball and keep all six balls out.


OVER 74: ENG 156/3 (Root 75*, Stokes 2*) - target 359 

This is just such a mature performance from Ben Stokes. He moves onto 56. Balls faced, that is. Still just two runs scored, but I've enjoyed this innings as much as any other of his big-hitting displays. A few more absolutely textbook forward defensive shots.

England certainly aren't trying to use the eight overs until the new ball to get a few more runs on the board. Two maidens this morning.


OVER 73: ENG 156/3 (Root 75*, Stokes 2*) - target 359

James Pattinson kicks things off for Australia. Root digs out a yorker first ball and thinks about an early single but is told in no uncertain terms by Stokes at the other end there is no way he is squeezing a run in there.

The Aussies appeal for a tickle through to Paine but there was a good inch between bat and ball. Getting desperate, perhaps?


Here they come

203 needed. Seven wickets remaining. Two days to do it in. Can England pull off one of the greatest comebacks in cricketing history? Let's find out.


The men carrying England's hopes

Ben Stokes and Joe Root will be back out in the middle imminently Credit: PA


A reminder of who is still to come back

This was supposed to be England's big opportunity to get back into the series with Steve Smith out injured, but it has not quite panned out that way. Even if Joe Root and co do find those 203 runs, Australia will only be stronger next time out at Old Trafford.


'You do not win Tests with players who love whacking white balls'

England, of course, would not be chasing such a big total if it wasn't for that first-innings collapse. Michael Vaughan has written this morning about where we go from here. Read more.

We need our four-day game to be played on better pitches throughout the whole summer, not just at the start. We played on better pitches at the start of this year. What happened? There were a few draws and counties started to prepare result pitches to get the win, giving our young batsmen no chance to bat a day, or day and a half. At the Oval last week, Ollie Pope scored a double hundred against Hampshire and people said the pitch was too flat. No. Maybe the bowling was not good enough. Do we really want to prepare Test match players?


The equation

So after a strong day from England's batters, particularly Joe Root who finished the day 75 not out, the match is beautifully poised.

England need another 203 runs, Australia seven wickets. England face an uphill challenge, not least because the new ball will be available to Australia in eight overs' time. And they are not even halfway to the target.

But survive the first hour or, better still, to tea... and you never know.


England enter fourth day with belief

England wholeheartedly believe they can haul down what would be a record pursuit of 359 to keep the Ashes series alive, according to Joe Denly.

Australia added 75 to their overnight lead of 283 on day three of the third Ashes Test at Headingley before a 126-run partnership between Joe Root and Denly formed the backbone of England's 156 for three at stumps.

Root was still there at the close on 75 not out, alongside Ben Stokes, who showed plenty of restraint in scoring only two off 50 balls to set up the prospect of gripping fourth day's play at Headingley.

England's highest successful chase of 332 for seven was in 1928 but Denly, who contributed 50 on Saturday, insists the current crop are excited by the possibility of making history to stop Australia from retaining the urn.

He said: "It would have been nice to end the day with Rooty but in saying that, I still think we're in very good position, there's a lot of belief in that dressing room and a lot of excitement about tomorrow.

"We went in to today, never thinking about a draw or losing, only about winning - that belief has to be there. At the end of the day we're in a reasonable position.

"We're not getting too far ahead of ourselves. We understand there is a tricky period in the morning with new ball coming up.

"But we have Rooty and Stokesy - two world-class batters in - so get through that and we will be in a great position. With the team we have, we can win games from any position, I believe."

Australia only need seven wickets to move into an unassailable 2-0 series lead although their prospects of victory were closer when England slipped to 15 for two, one day on from their abject 67 all out.

Root had made nought in his previous two innings but he led by example with a steely knock while Denly was forced to weather an early barrage before contributing his second Test half-century.

Denly arrived at the crease with an average of only 22 but when asked whether he felt he was playing for his international future, he responded: "I wasn't thinking about it like that.

"As top-order batter you are always under pressure to score runs - I got couple of starts and haven't been able to capitalise.

Joe Denly battled hard to reach 50 Credit:  Getty Images

"It's never ideal when you get bowled out for 67, it wasn't good enough and we had to show a bit of fight and a bit of character in the second innings."

Marnus Labuschagne thinks Australia need to remain patient in order to seal victory.

He said: "The wicket's flattened out a little bit and day three is probably one of the better days to bat on the wicket. If we show the same discipline we did today with the new ball tomorrow, we'll definitely reap the rewards."

Labuschagne, included following Steve Smith's absence because of concussion, contributed 80 from Australia's 246 all out but took a blow to the helmet from a Jofra Archer bouncer for the second time in two Tests.

He added: "You obviously don't like getting hit in the head but it obviously wakes you up. The doc, it's a bit of a laugh now, he comes out and I'm like 'doc, I'm alright, I'm good'.

"I think he knows now. If I do get hit properly I think there will be a clear difference. The last few have just been glancing blows."