LEEDS, England, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Reaction after Ben Stokes’s unbeaten 135 earned England a thrilling one-wicket victory in the third Ashes test to level the series against Australia at 1-1 on Sunday.
England captain Joe Root:
“Ben Stokes is a freak, he’s incredible. The message at the start was to just keep believing. If we had two people out there still breathing then we have a chance.
“After Stokes got to 60, 70 he looked like he wasn’t going to get out. To win a game on your own from there is just amazing. He does have recent experience of doing it. Just incredible to watch unfold.”
Australia captain Tim Paine:
“Sometimes, people make mistakes and we made a couple today which cost us the test match along with the unbelievable innings.
“We have time now to stick together and bounce back. If we get caught up in the emotion of it all then the series can be taken away from us quickly.
“The facts is we have been in a position to win every test match so far.”
England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was named man-of-the-match:
“It probably matches the World Cup, to be honest. Unbelievable, it’s one I’ll never forget.
“I never gave up. When Jack Leach came in it was pretty clear what I had to do. I told him five and one, I’d take five balls and give him one.
“Leachy is our super-nightwatchman so I backed him, knowing what we had to do. I couldn’t watch at the end. I couldn’t watch the balls going down.
England’s tail-end hero Jack Leach, who finished unbeaten on one from 17 balls:
“Are you expecting to get some sense out of me right now?
“I got off the pitch and then thought, ‘What has Ben Stokes just done?’ I was running towards him after he hit the winning runs and it was the best feeling ever.”
England bowler Stuart Broad:
“It was one of those ‘I was there’ moments. I don’t think anyone in this ground will see a better innings. It had everything. He (Stokes) struck the ball beautifully.
“The bloke has got the heart of a lion. Everything he does is for the team. He is the perfect team mate.
“The belief has always been there in this game. But nine down, one ball finishes the Ashes series; of course I thought the Ashes were over.”
Former England all-rounder Ian Botham:
“It takes a remarkable man and I said this morning that someone needed to front up and be strong.
“I’ve banged the Ben Stokes drum for a long time now and I know when other players see him they think there is something special about him.
“He is very, very valuable to cricket — not just England, he will sell the game worldwide. He should enjoy every moment. It was a really remarkable performance.”
Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott on Twitter:
“I’ve seen some remarkable cricket moments in my life but that is the best I’ve seen in over 50 years.
“@benstokes38 saved the Ashes and gave a magical inspirational innings. Even better than his World Cup performance.”
Former England captain Nasser Hussain:
“It will test the mental toughness of the Australian side.
“What England need to do in the next couple of games is make them think, ‘crikey, I wish we’d done some things better at Headingley.’”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan, who led the 2005 Ashes-winning team:
“That is massive for Joe Root. I’ve been in that situation where your team is really struggling. This is his time to try and win an Ashes series on home turf.
“All England captains need a great all-rounder. I had Andrew Flintoff. Mike Brearley had Ian Botham. And Joe Root has Ben Stokes.”
Former England captain Michael Atherton:
“On this ground, great English innings in recent years, you’re thinking Botham in 1981, (Graham) Gooch in 1991, (Mark) Butcher 2001 and Ben Stokes has to top all those.
“Australia, Ashes at stake, this has reignited Ashes after England were dead and buried.”
Former Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne:
“Stokes is one of those guys who you want in the trenches with you; he’s one of the guys who train harder than I’ve ever seen anyone train.
“He’s an amazing cricketer and special talent. But when the opportunity presents itself you still have to take it.”
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting:
“I’m not sure I’ve seen anything better than that on a Test ground, to be honest.
“He (Stokes) scored two off 64 balls but we always felt that if he was there then England were going to be a chance to win. Deep down, he knew that as well.
“He wanted to be the man to be there at the end regardless of how long it took.”
England fast bowler Jofra Archer on Twitter:
“This is by far the most intense game I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Former Australia bowler Glenn McGrath on BBC’s Test Match Special:
“What a class cricketer Ben Stokes is. Amazing with bat, ball and in the field. Is there a better all-rounder in the world right now?”
Former South Africa captain AB de Villiers on Twitter:
“That was pretty special! @benstokes38, that was ridiculous! Well done. Ashes alive and well.”
Former Australia bowler Brad Hogg on Twitter:
“@benstokes38 most valuable player in the world game today. Brilliant performance. Hats off to you.”
Former England soccer international Gary Lineker:
“If you’re not into cricket, you have my utmost sympathy.” (Compiled by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon and Ian Chadband)