Ashes series: Stokes holds the key


When two of the world’s hottest cricket teams go head-to-head, the table is set for a feast.

Friday’s third day of the third Test match in the Ashes series between England and Australia at Headingley in Leeds is heading for a thriller, because it has all the ingredients of a winning recipe.

At the very front of the spotlight were the two captains, the Aussies’ Pat Cummins (6/91) and Ben Stokes from England (80 runs from just 103 balls with six fours and five sixes) who led from the front.

Then Stuart Broad took the wicket of Aussies opener David Warner for the 17th time in Test cricket. In addition, England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow lashed out at Steve Smith when he was caught behind the wicket in his 100th Test match and then referred the decision to the television umpire.

“See your ‘smudge’,” Bairstow told Smith, adding further fuel to the fire in a series that has been balanced on a knife’s edge and where no gifts are handed out.

The Aussies, who scored 263 in their first innings, continue to bat on Saturday at 116/4 with a lead of 142 runs.

England were bowled out for 237 runs in their first innings, a deficit of 26 runs after the home team was in deep trouble at 142/7.

But then Stokes saved his team again with his aggressive innings.

Stokes, who smashed 155 runs in England’s second innings in the recent second Test at Lord’s, now boasts 6,008 runs in Test cricket as well as 197 wickets. He is undoubtedly the best current all-rounder in world cricket.

According to cricinfo, the legendary Irish sports writer Con Houlihan said that there must be a redhead in any sports team.

Stokes, who was born in Christchurch in New Zealand, not only fulfills that requirement, but he is the glue of the current team which, with an attacking batting approach, is luring the spectators back to Test cricket in their thousands.

The Aussies, who are already 2-0 ahead in the series of 5 tests, will soon have the upper hand again unless the English strike with the ball early on Saturday.