Watching Stokes' Headingley heroics best thing Australia did, says Cummins

By Sports Desk April 12, 2020

Pat Cummins has revealed how a difficult team meeting the day after Ben Stokes' Headingley heroics helped Australia get their Ashes campaign back on track in 2019.

After victory at Edgbaston in the series opener was followed by a draw at Lord's, Australia appeared set to retain the urn when they seized control of the third Test, bowling their rivals out for just 67 on the second day.

Set an unlikely 359 to win in Leeds, England's hopes looked to be over when they slipped to 286-9. However, aided by last man Jack Leach, Stokes smashed the hosts to an astonishing one-wicket victory.

The all-rounder finished up on 135 not out, though only after surviving a strong lbw shout against Nathan Lyon, who had spilled a simple run-out out opportunity to dismiss Leach from the previous delivery.

As shown in the Amazon Prime documentary 'The Test: A New Era for Australia's Team', head coach Justin Langer called the squad together the following day to watch back footage of the fourth day's play, a move Cummins thought was a risk as emotions were still running high.

The fast bowler told the Guardian: "The feeling around the group was, ‘What's he (Langer) doing? He's got this one way off'.

"I remember getting the message and I thought, ‘C'mon, we’ve all gone through this, just give us a day off.' 

"Everyone had played it over in their head a hundred times that night. I just remember thinking it's better if we sleep on it, have a good day off, forget about it, and come together once we've all mellowed down a little bit.

"It was literally 15 hours after the last ball, so emotions were still high. That was the context of the meeting, everyone was still hurting."

Australia went on to win the next match in Manchester and while England claimed the finale at The Oval, a 2-2 result made sure the tourists' grip on the Ashes remained.

"We all left that meeting thinking, 'You know what, if we did the same thing a hundred times over, we'd win 99 times out of 100'," Cummins continued.

He [Stokes] just had a day out, played incredibly well. We had a couple of chances we missed but, do you know what, in the end it was just that last bit where someone had a day out and it came off."

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