There are a few moments in time when sport reaches the level of poetry and art, when grown men shed tears of pure emotion, when the heart beats fiercely, and words are hard to come by. One of those moments in time happened today at the Ashes Test match at Headingley.
It is hard to describe for anyone not familiar with cricket but, essentially the Old Enemy Australia set England what seemed like an almost impossible task but which with luck and guile and the skills of one man in particular, England won at the very last minute. Almost the entire country seemed to be watching and, when the final stroke had secured the improbable victory, the whole country exploded with utter joy, an outburst of raptuous emotion that England has needed for a while,
What must it feel like to be Ben Stokes, England’s hero of the day? Almost single-handed he blasted the last sixty or seventy runs needed, and saved the match and the Ashes for England. Even the oft-depressed Sir Geoffrey Boycott was exuberant: “I’ve seen some remarkable cricket moments in my life but that is the best I’ve seen in over 50 years. Ben Stokes saved the Ashes and gave a magical inspirational innings.”
Now, we go forward to the fourth match of the series, with the scores one win each, with one draw. England already seems happy with its bowlers and now, with this magnificent batting effort in the second innings eclipsing our disastrous first innings outing, we can look forward with confidence to the final two matches.