The Mercury

England hail ‘Special One’ Stokes

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ENGLAND hailed a new Ashes hero for the ages yesterday 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.

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”.

Matt Dickinson in The Times compared Stokes’s ability to produce his best just when the situation demanded it to Argentine footballin­g great Diego Maradona and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.

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Ben Stokes

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