Cricket doesn’t really get much better than what we witnessed on the final day of the third Ashes Test. Ben Stokes was hailed the hero of Headingley and led England to a victory that cricket fans will talk about for years to come. England’s World Cup win teamed with the Headingley spectacle seems to have rekindled England’s passion for cricket. Stokes commented that ‘this summer has made cricket bigger than I ever remember it to be’ and how ‘the number of people who wait at the hotel for autographs has gone through the roof.’
It was a glorious win but it’s important to remember that although we won the battle, we are yet to win the war. Today, the vital fourth Ashes Test commences at Old Trafford. This is a crucial Test match for England; having drawn at Lord’s and lost at Edgbaston, they will be looking to take the win once more in order to claim back the Urn. The question is, how do England follow up at Old Trafford after such a momentous result that has gone down in cricket history?
Stokes has pointed out that Headingley’s performance will count for nothing if England do not win the series. Stokes stated that he ‘will only take real satisfaction from the innings if we win back the Ashes from Australia.’ At this stage, Australia only need to draw the series to take the urn back home with them. A great deal rests on this week’s performance and no doubt cricket fans will be on edge more than ever!
Unsurprisingly, Stokes’ recent innings have now made him prime target for Australia. Captain, Tim Paine, has revealed that he has lost sleep in preparation for the fourth Ashes Test and how best to deal with Stokes. ‘I haven’t lost a hell of a lot of sleep thinking about my captaincy but I have lost a bit of sleep thinking how we’re going to get him out, that’s for sure.’ It seems that Australia will take advantage of spinner, Nathan Lyons. Paine made note of how well Lyons has bowled to Stokes in past matches. ‘He’s created a number of chances each time he’s bowled to him but the other side of it is we hold our chances when Nathan is bowling to him. If we can do that, I think he can open the game up for us through that middle order.’ He then went on to note how he felt as though the team let Lyons down with their fielding during the past two Tests.
There have been clear instances across the series thus far where each team has struggled and put up disappointing performances. Will both England and Australia learn from their past mistakes and identify the strengths that led to each of their victories? Each side now stands equally with one win each under their belts. The fourth Ashes Test will certainly be a nail-biting experience. Can England re-create the Headingley magic at Old Trafford and keep the nation’s cricket passion alive indefinitely?