Australia superstar batsman Steve Smith praised Ben Stokes’ impressive innings in the third Ashes Test and revealed what he liked most about the match-winning century.
Australia were on the cusp of retaining the Ashes, despite the absence of their best batsman Smith. England collapsed to 286-9 on an exciting fourth day in Leeds.
However, Stokes pulled England out of trouble with one of the greatest Test knocks ever. His brilliant 135 not out from 219 balls included a 76-run stand with No. 11, Jack Leach. England ended up registering a remarkable one-wicket win against the Aussies and levelled the series at 1-1 with two matches left to play.
Smith admitted he found it difficult to enjoy Stokes’ display but lauded the England all-rounder’s heroic efforts at Headingley.
“I’m not a great watcher of cricket, never really have been so I didn’t quite enjoy that, but what an advertisement for Test cricket,” he said.
“It was a pretty amazing innings from Stokesy. He completely turned the series on its head. We had an opportunity to wrap it up but he was incredible.”
“Even when you go back to two nights before that night where he bowled 14 overs straight. Someone said on average he bowled the quickest for the day across those 14 overs so that’s a pretty amazing effort.”
“He’s a tough competitor, he wants to be in the pressure moments.”
“He thrives under pressure as we’ve seen the last couple of months and he turned the game there at the end.”
Smith truly admired Stokes’ attitude. The left-hander refused to celebrate his ton as his only focus was to take England over the line.
“I think you could see the passion and fight he showed. He never gave up,” Edgbaston’s back-to-back centurion added.
“You look at him – and I really admire this about him – when he scored the 100 he didn’t even celebrate, he didn’t care.”
“He had one thing on his mind and that was getting England over the line and you’ve really got to admire that.”
“When you’re in those pressure moments you’ve got to want to be the one to deliver and do what you can for your team.”
“Hopefully, some of our boys can learn from that and when we’re faced with similar situations, dig as deep as we can to do whatever we can to get over the line,” he concluded.