Stokes has 'no hesitation' that England can win the Ashes from here

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Wood and Woakes took England to a thrilling win at Headingley
Wood and Woakes took England to a thrilling win at Headingley © AFP

Ben Stokes, the England captain, is confident that England can regain the Ashes following their three-wicket win over Australia, at Headingley, on Sunday. Having lost the first two Tests, England needed to win all the remaining games of the five-match series in order to win back the urn. The England captain said he had 'no hesitation' that they can win the series from hereon.

Since the 1936-37 series Down Under, when the Don Bradman-led Australia won the series, no team has won the Ashes after being 2-nil down. Harry Brook's 75 helped England over the line at Leeds on the fourth day in a tricky run-chase, but they will have to beat Australia at Old Trafford and Oval in the next two games, in what has so far been a tightly-contested series, in order to make the hope come true.

"Another down-to-the wire game," Stokes admitted after the game. "Nice to get over the line and keep our hopes alive.

"It is obviously really big in the context of the series. We knew we needed to win this Test to keep alive our hopes of winning the Ashes, so it's a good win. If you look at the first two games in terms of how tight they were, getting over the line in another tight game can mentally help... knowing that it's another close game but we've got over the line in this one.

"The first two didn't go our way. If you flip it round and we didn't win this one and it's tight again, you would think it's just not meant to be. We're obviously over the moon that we won this one but it's just the start of what we know we need to do."

Stokes also credited the performances put up by Mark Wood, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali who were brought into the side for the third Test. "We brought Woody and Woakes back in and it's great when decisions like that impact the game. That's what we look at, what impact can players have and how can we use them. All three of those guys did that this week.

Woakes, who hadn't played a Test since March 2022, chipped in with six wickets in the match before playing a crucial hand in the tense run-chase in the fourth innings, finishing unbeaten on 32 - which included a 59-run stand with Harry Brook before a crucial unbeaten 24-run partnership with Wood.

"I didn't even look at the fact that it's been so long since he (Chris Woakes) had played red-ball," Stokes said. "He's a quality performer. He's Mr Consistent. Having someone who can bat like the can at No. 8 is a massive help, and when the ball's doing a bit in the air or off the pitch he's massively in the game."

Wood also impressed with his pace, especially in the first innings, where he returned a fifer. He then played two entertaining and handy cameos with the bat lower down the order, crunching four sixes in his 16-ball stay at the wicket across two innings.

"When you've got someone who can come in and bowl 95mph, it's a massive help," the English captain said. "It impacts the game, whether he's taking wickets at one end or they come at the other. Great to see him smiling, running in and bowling rockets. And with the bat, he's a free spirit, and very clear in his mind. He walked out knowing how he wanted to take the game on, doesn't always come off but it gives you a better chance."

Moeen Ali didn't have such a big part to play after coming back into the XI as a replacement for the injured Ollie Pope. He picked up two wickets in the second innings, but importantly was tasked with batting at No 3 in the chase. The move didn't work out too well with Mitchell Starc cleaning him up with a yorker on 5. However, Stokes reserved praise for the all-rounder. "Mo always wants to impact the game, he said to Brendon last night that he wanted to take them on and have a crack at No. 3. Felt like he could have an impact up the order."




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