“Miracle”, “masterclass”, “sensational”, “heroic”. Google ‘Ben Stokes at Headingley’ and the list of superlatives used to describe his performance against Australia on the fourth day of the third Ashes Test of 2019 is endless. Stokes almost single-handedly won the Test for England with a knock of 135 not out as his team successfully pursued a second innings deficit of 359 – a result which, for a while at least, prevented Australia from retaining the Ashes. With 11 fours and eight sixes, Stokes was simply electric. But it was the dying moments of his partnership with Jack Leach – overs which were fraught with danger and missed opportunities for the Aussies – which made the achievement so dramatic. This picture, commissioned for The Guardian and shot by Tom Jenkins, captures Stokes in reflective mood just a few months later, surrounded by paintings of some of the game’s legends in the Long Room at Lord’s. Might Stokes’ portrait one day be hung beside them?
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