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Ashes 2019 | Stokes is a Player Every Team in the World Fears: Glenn McGrath

Australia looked in the driver’s seat to seal the Ashes with a win in the third Test at Headingley, Leeds, before England all-rounder Ben Stokes and his sensational last-wicket stand with Jack Leach took the game away from the visitors.

Cricketnext Staff |August 28, 2019, 4:01 PM IST
England's Ben Stokes. (Pic: AFP)

Australia looked in the driver’s seat to seal the Ashes with a win in the third Test at Headingley, Leeds, before England all-rounder Ben Stokes and his sensational last-wicket stand with Jack Leach took the game away from the visitors.

Tim Paine’s side had plenty of chances to finish the contest with Marcus Harris dropping a catch off Stokes at third man with 17 runs still needed and then Nathan Lyon fumbling a run-out opportunity with two runs needed for victory.

Former Australian paceman and the second highest Test wicket-taker in the nation’s history, Glenn McGrath, believe the visitors will take this loss ‘extremely hard’

“Australia will take the dramatic loss by one wicket in the third Test at Headingley extremely hard. When you have chances to win the game but do not do it then it is always more difficult to take,” McGrath told the BBC.

“Ben Stokes played one of the best innings I have seen but Australia will rue those missed opportunities at the end. The dropped catch by Marcus Harris at third man off Stokes when there were 17 runs needed was a tough chance — but Australia will really regret the two missed run-outs.

“First, there was the one down to third man where the throw went to the wrong end, and then the chance when Nathan Lyon fumbled the ball. All he had to do was take it cleanly and Jack Leach would have been run out by half a pitch. Those are the things that take the wind out of you,” he added.

McGrath said that although he only gave England 20 per cent chance to win at the start of the final day, he always believed the home side had a chance as long as Stokes was there in the middle.

“At the start of the day I gave England less than 20% chance of winning, but I always thought in the back of my mind that if Stokes was there then England would have a chance because he is such an aggressive, powerful player.

“He is a player every team in the world fears. Stokes is a brilliant batsman who can concentrate, build an innings and also be destructive when he needs to be, but he also runs in and bowls all day and is a fantastic fielder. He is easily the best all-rounder in the world and there are not too many who could have come close to doing what he did,” he said about Stokes.

Comparing Stokes to brilliant English all-rounder Ian Botham, McGrath said, “When people talk about the greatest innings of all time I always think back to Ian Botham's century at Headingley in 1981, and that innings was probably the last time we saw anything close to this one from Stokes.

“But what Australia have to remember is that Stokes basically won this match by himself. In the second innings he bowled 24 overs of good pace over after over and took three wickets, keeping the pressure on Australia, and then he went out and scored 135 not out,” he said.

The 49-year-old blamed Australia for not using the review system properly although umpire Joel Wilson was incorrect in giving Stokes ‘not-out’.

“There was also the incorrect lbw decision by umpire Joel Wilson when he did not give Stokes out — but I have always said if you use the review system properly then it can win you a game, and if you use it badly it can lose you one.

“I played in a similar game when West Indies scored 311 to beat us by one wicket in 1999 in Barbados. It was another incredible innings, that time from Brian Lara, who scored 153 not out.

“It was a little different because West Indies only needed a handful of runs when last man Courtney Walsh came out — rather than the 73 Stokes and Leach needed — but again we had our chances there,” McGrath recalled about the incredible defeat in Barbados in 1999.

The Australian pace legend also recalled the sensational Test match against India at Eden Gardens, when VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid turned the tide for their side after following on.

“If it takes an incredible innings like the ones Lara and Stokes played — or the mammoth scores by VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid in that famous Test in 2001 when India beat us after we enforced the follow-on — you can live with it, but when you feel like you have lost it to a degree it is a lot harder to take.

“Over the course of the full match Australia deserved to win, but it was taken away from them and it will hurt them. They will have gone to their rooms after play and will have been devastated, but they have got another eight or nine days now to pick themselves up,” McGrath felt.

The former paceman turned out in 125 Tests and 250 ODIS for Australia claiming 563 and 381 wickets in them respectively.

“There were a couple of tough games that I lost early on in my career, one in 1994 against South Africa at Sydney when I was last man out and we lost by five runs, and also the first Test of the 1997 Ashes series in England where we got well and truly beaten by nine wickets at Edgbaston.

I remember watching England celebrating on the balcony after that match and I hated every second of it. I used that as motivation from then on in the series. Australia now have to do the same and say that they never want to get into that situation again,” he said.

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4027 115
2 New Zealand 2829 109
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 4366 104
5 Australia 3270 99
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 India 8411 263
4 Australia 5471 261
5 South Africa 4407 259
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