Justin Langer felt physically sick after Australia's dramatic defeat at Headingley but has revelled in one of the toughest weeks of his coaching career as Steve Waugh returned to the visitors' camp for the remaining Ashes Tests.

Ben Stokes was England's hero in Leeds, clubbing his way to 135 not out to lead the hosts to a thrilling one-wicket victory that levelled the series.

Australia, however, will retain the Ashes should they win the fourth Test, which starts at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Though Langer labelled the days following Headingley as the hardest he has endured as a coach, the former Australia opener has enjoyed rallying his squad for the upcoming matches.

"As challenging as this week's been, it's been awesome," Langer said.

"I've loved this last week of coaching, because you can either sit back and feel sorry for yourself and put it under the carpet, or you can work out ways to make sure we're up for the first ball and then the next Test match.

"That's the toughest part of it, we were that close [to victory], I actually felt physically sick after it, then I went back to my room and I wasn't sure whether to cry my eyes out or smash my hotel room.

"For most people it's just a game of cricket, but when so much goes into it, it means a lot. You do take it personally because I know how much work's going into it.

"You never like to let opportunities slip in your life. But that's okay, we'll make sure we learn from it."

Langer received a further boost ahead of the Old Trafford Test, with Waugh returning to the backroom team after missing the third match.

Like Ricky Ponting during the World Cup, Waugh mentored Australia's squad throughout the opening two Tests and Langer is delighted to welcome a key figure of his staff back to the fold.

"Guys like Ponting and Waugh, not only do they have a great presence in the group, but they are great psychologists," Langer said.

"They've been in the cauldron before, they've seen it all, so to have that those type of guys, we are talking about developing leadership in Australian cricket, to have our guys to learn from people of that calibre is very important.

"He's been like a kid at Christmas, to come back after such a long time away from the game, his passion and enthusiasm has been brilliant.

"We asked him to stay for the third Test but he had to go back for a function, he was actually going to fly there, do the function and fly back the next day. That's how much he is enjoying it and we see great value."

Australia are still considering their options at the top of the order ahead of the fourth Ashes Test against England, says chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns.

The tourists were pegged back in the third match at Headingley as Ben Stokes' history-making innings levelled the series at 1-1 heading into the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

Australia had already been forced into changes in their batting line-up due to Steve Smith's absence with concussion, while opener Cameron Bancroft was dropped in Leeds following a tough start to the series.

Smith will come back in for the next match but it appears unlikely he will be the only returning face, although Marnus Labuschagne will likely be retained after impressing in the former captain's absence.

A tour match victory over Derbyshire - secured on Saturday by an innings and 54 runs - increased Australia's options as Mitchell Marsh, batting at number three, made 74.

Hohns said: "This game has given us a lot more options. We'll get to Manchester, hopefully have a look at the pitch, and go through what options we do have - and they are plenty.

"There are a couple of headaches there, but nice headaches, of course, and the important thing is that we come up with a balanced team now to win this next Test match.

"The area up the top is not so much concerning but it's been difficult for both teams at the top of the order. That's an area we'll certainly be looking at.

"Mitchell Marsh has given us a good option today. All players are in contention."

Matthew Wade would appear to be at risk, having failed to build on his 110 in the Ashes opener at Edgbaston with three single-figure dismissals since.

"He played very well that innings he made a hundred," Hohns said. "Unfortunately things have not quite gone his way since then. That will certainly be an area we are having a look at."

Labuschagne is also a "prime contender", Hohns acknowledged, having impressed since becoming Smith's concussion substitute and making history in the process.

The selector would not rule out bowling changes either, even if Nathan Lyon is "no doubt at all" after giving Australia a scare by twisting his ankle in a training game of touch rugby.

Mitchell Starc – who took 3-46 and 4-39 against Derbyshire - is an obvious candidate to come into the side having sat out the first three Tests, with Hohns adding: "He's certainly given us a good option there.

"We'll have a look at the pitch, of course, and we have heard that it is renowned for being possibly the quickest in the country. That will all be taken into account.

"Right from the start of the tour it was made very clear what was expected of our bowlers and where we wanted them to bowl.

"Mitchell has taken all that on board and he was worked very, very hard to improve his game in that area.

"We all know he is an aggressor, so we can't expect him to change the way he bowls too much. But he is doing everything he possibly can to bowl in the right areas and the right channels."

Derbyshire started Saturday's play on 53-3 and were skittled for 112, with Marsh (2-5) and Peter Siddle (2-21) joining Starc in the wickets.

James Anderson's Ashes career looks to have been ended by a recurrence of a calf injury after England's greatest bowler was ruled out of the Old Trafford and Oval Tests.

The 575-wicket paceman was on duty for Lancashire second XI for the second week in a row, looking to prove his fitness for the climax of the series against Australia.

With England and Australia tied at 1-1, the prospect of Anderson coming into Joe Root's team could have provided a major spur for the hosts.

However, a right calf problem has seen the plans shelved, and at the age of 37 it seems certain Anderson has played his final Ashes match. He will be 39 by the time the next series against Australia comes around Down Under in 2021-22.

Anderson limped out of the ongoing series on day one of the Edgbaston opener and has not been involved since.

The 37-year-old seamer clung to the hope of returning, but calf trouble resurfaced in the Lancashire second-string game against Durham at Chester Boughton Hall Cricket Club.

"That's a big blow for us," said England spinner Jack Leach.

"Obviously he's a great bowler, probably England's greatest bowler, so whenever that happens it's going to be a big blow.

"I'm gutted for him. He's worked really hard to try to get fit for Lord's and for this game [at Old Trafford] so it's a shame for Jimmy and a shame for England.

"We have to move on without him for this game and for the rest of the series. But I'm sure he’ll come back strong, and it's a shame for him."

Anderson has taken 104 wickets in 32 Tests against Australia, at an average of 34.56.

He had looked certain to return to the England squad at Old Trafford, where a stand is named in his honour, providing he came through his low-profile county outings.

England have instead had to look elsewhere to find competition in the bowling department, with Somerset's Craig Overton called up.

Leach, who played the gutsy support role at Headingley when Ben Stokes produced his match-winning century, said England would be fully focused for the rest of the series after enjoying a short break from camp.

Players have been free to return home and spend time with friends and family, and Leach told BBC Radio 5 Live: "You want to be excited and refreshed going to Old Trafford – that's the most important thing for the guys.

"I’m sure Rooty [captain Root] and Trev [coach Trevor Bayliss] will be sending that message to us on Sunday evening, when we're meeting up, and on Monday at training we’ve got to be right on the money.

"The celebrations after Headingley, not from us but from the rest of the country, it feels like it’s the end and we've won the Ashes. But that’s not the case. It's 1-1 and there's two games to go.

"Australia are a good side and they're well up for this and we know they're going to come back hard and we’ve got to be ready for that."

Steve Smith was undone by spin on his return to batting action for Australia against Derbyshire on Friday.

The former Australia captain was forced to miss the third Ashes Test at Headingley last week because of concussion, after being hit on the side of the head by a bouncer from England paceman Jofra Archer in the previous match.

After being given the all-clear to resume batting, Smith would have hoped for plenty of time at the crease in the three-day tour match at Derby.

However, he fell for just 23 when he went after leg spinner Matt Critchley with an aggressive shot. Smith failed to fully control a big swipe into the off side and was caught in the deep by Hamidullah Qadri.

Smith was walking off before the catch was taken and was pictured by a member of Australia's media team, apparently heading straight to the nets.

Australia bowled out Derbyshire for 172 on Thursday, the first day of the match, and the tourists' top three all made half-centuries in response, with Marcus Harris run out for 64, Usman Khawaja contributing 72 and Mitchell Marsh pressing his claims for a Test recall with 74.

After 80 overs of their first innings, Australia were 274 for five, leading by 102 runs.

The Ashes series is tied at 1-1 ahead of the fourth Test starting at Old Trafford on September 4.

James Anderson has been ruled out of the rest of the Ashes series due to pain in his right calf, the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced.

England’s record Test wicket-taker limped out of the action on day one of the opening match in the series at Edgbaston, and has not been involved since.

However, the 37-year-old seamer clung to the hope he would be able to prove his fitness in time for the matches at Old Trafford and The Oval.

His prospects looked to be improving as he took part in two second XI matches for his county Lancashire, but Anderson suffered a setback on Thursday, and medical checks dealt him bad news.

The ECB said on its website: "England and Lancashire seamer James Anderson has been ruled out for the rest of the Specsavers Ashes series.

"Whilst bowling in the ninth over on Thursday in Lancashire’s second XI four-day friendly against Durham at Chester Boughton Hall Cricket Club, Anderson became aware of right calf pain following on from 20 overs he had bowled on Tuesday

"He immediately sought a medical assessment from Lancashire and was withdrawn from the remainder of the game. Further review with the ECB medical team has confirmed that he will be unavailable for the remaining two Specsavers Ashes Tests."

Given his track record, Anderson looked sure to return to the England squad at Old Trafford, where a stand is named in his honour, providing he came through his low-profile county outings.

England have instead been prompted to look elsewhere to find competition in the bowling department, with Somerset’s Craig Overton called up for the first time since March 2018.

The fast-medium bowler has played in three Tests, including defeats to Australia in Adelaide and Perth in the 2017 Ashes.

He has 32 wickets at 21.34 apiece in the County Championship this season, and together with Sam Curran could rival Chris Woakes for a place in the team for Old Trafford, with the fourth Test due to start on September 4.


England squad for fourth Test: Joe Root (captain), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.
 

 

The 2019 FIBA World Cup gets under way in China on Saturday.

A total of 32 teams from four confederations will battle it out across eight host cities in the space of just over two weeks.

We take a look at five talking points ahead of what should be an enthralling competition.

 

A three-peat in the offing?

The United States have won the past two editions of the World Cup and are once again the favourites for glory. No country has ever won three straight titles.

However, Team USA are without a host of their leading NBA stars and are relying heavily on a young group.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said: "A lot of guys back in 2010; KD [Kevin Durant], Russ [Westbrook], Kevin Love, all those guys were young. They made a name for themselves and really propelled themselves for future success in their careers."

The competition could prove beneficial to the Boston Celtics, with Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Brown getting some extra time on court with new arrival Kemba Walker.

Booming Boomers

Australia enjoyed a huge boost ahead of the World Cup by beating Team USA for the first time with a 98-94 triumph at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.

The experienced quartet of Aron Baynes, Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills will be key to their hopes of a deep run.

Mills said: "We're locked in focused on trying to create history for basketball within Australia and that's what it's all about. So, we're not satisfied, we've just got to keep working hard."

However, the Boomers lost their final warm-up match against Germany 74-64 and saw Andrew Bogut limp off in the fourth quarter.

More Nurse magic?

After leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA Championship, Nick Nurse took the reins for Canada.

He got off to a winning start against Nigeria and went on to record victories over Australia and New Zealand.

But Canada also lost warm-up matches with Nigeria, Australia and Team USA, showing they have plenty of work to do if they are to pull off a shock in China.

A 'Greek Freak' Show

Greece's best performance came in 2006, when they finished second to Spain in Japan.

This time, though, they have a once-in-a-generation talent in NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 assists during the 2018-19 regular season.

Antetokounmpo will be integral to Greece's hopes, though he sat out their final warm-up against Venezuela due to a knee problem.

If he is fit and firing, Antetokounmpo will undoubtedly make a mark on the competition.

Understrength Spain

It looks like it will be difficult for Spain to win the title for a second time.

Head coach Sergio Scariolo has selected an experienced team that is headlined by Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Llull.

They would undoubtedly have had a better chance had Serge Ibaka and Nikola Mirotic made themselves available, while Pau Gasol is absent due to injury.

Scariolo said: "The players that you have named [Nikola Mirotic and Serge Ibaka], at least one of the two would have been picked if they had made themselves available for selection.

"Another like Pau for example, he would have killed to be with us but unfortunately he is unavailable through injury."

Ben Stokes produced a box-office innings in the third Ashes Test and Jack Leach has revealed the England hero did so while wearing his team-mate's crotch protection.

England pulled off one of the most remarkable Test victories of all time at Headingley on Sunday as Stokes made an unbeaten 135 in a one-wicket win against Australia that kept the series alive.

He produced his most incredible shots alongside last man Leach, with their unbroken 76-run partnership denying Australia, who would have retained the urn had they found a way to get either player out.

Leach, who only made one not out from 17 balls as Stokes brilliantly farmed the strike, has now confirmed that England's superstitious hero has made Ashes centuries in successive Tests wearing a box he borrowed from the tailender.

"He uses my box now," Leach explained to BBC Somerset.

"In the Lord's game, he had to get ready quite quickly. There were a couple of wickets and he lost his box so he was panicking.

"He was like, 'Leachy, can I borrow your box?'

"He was not out at the end of the day and he was like, 'This is going to sound weird, but I need to keep using your box'.

"So obviously I was like, 'Yeah, that's fine'. 

"After that innings he was like, 'Mate, I'm going to have to keep that box now, it's a bit of a superstitious thing', and if Ben Stokes is happy, then I'm happy.

"It obviously worked again in this case."

Stokes made 115 not out in the second Test at Lord's, which ended as a draw, and appeared to be caught right in the area Leach's box was protecting from a Josh Hazlewood delivery during that innings.

Adam Taggart has been rewarded for his goalscoring form with a spot in Australia's squad to face Kuwait in their opening World Cup qualifier.

Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold included former Fulham forward Taggart in his 23-man squad as the Suwon Bluewings star tops the K-League scoring charts with 16 goals.

Taggart – who was in the squad for the 2014 World Cup – returned to the international fold during June's international friendly against Korea Republic.

Uncapped defender Harry Souttar is also in the squad, headlined by Aaron Mooy, Mathew Ryan and Mathew Leckie, for the clash in Kuwait on September 10.

"I have spent the past month in Europe with one of my Assistants, Rene Meulensteen, watching and speaking with our players and their coaches and we have been delighted with what we have seen and heard," Arnold said on Friday.

"The players that have been selected in this squad are fit and ready to go, while many, such as Brandon Borrello at Freiburg, Ajdin Hrustic at Groningen, Milos Degenek at Red Star Belgrade, Adam Taggart at Suwon Bluewings, Jackson Irvine at Hull City, and Harry Souttar at Fleetwood Town, have made very positive contributions with their clubs.

"Our June camp and friendly in Busan was a really important time for us. While many of the senior players that had participated in three major tournaments since 2017 were left out to give them a chance to refresh mentally and physically, many young and emerging players were given the chance to enter or re-enter the set-up, which has helped us to develop our depth."

Arnold added: "I find it exciting for the Socceroos and the nation that there were so many more players in contention for this squad and am expecting healthy competition for places in the starting side for Kuwait and our upcoming qualification matches as we target a winning start on our journey to Qatar."

The Socceroos are in Group B for the second round of AFC qualifying, alongside Kuwait, Jordan, Chinese Taipei and Nepal.

 

Australia: Mitch Langerak (Nagoya Grampus), Mathew Ryan (Brighton and Hove Albion), Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC); Aziz Behic (Istanbul Basaksehir), Milos Degenek (Red Star Belgrade), Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC), Trent Sainsbury (Maccabi Haifa), Brad Smith (Seattle Sounders), Harry Souttar (Fleetwood Town); Mustafa Amini (Aarhus), Ajdin Hrustic (FC Groningen), Jackson Irvine (Hull City), James Jeggo (Austria Vienna), Massimo Luongo (Sheffield Wednesday), Mark Milligan (Southend United), Aaron Mooy (Brighton and Hove Albion); Brandon Borrello (Freiburg), Apostolos Giannou (AEK Larnaca), Craig Goodwin (Al-Wehda), Matthew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Awer Mabil (Midtjylland), Jamie Maclaren (Melbourne City), Adam Taggart (Suwon Bluewings).

Israel Folau is claiming Rugby Australia has enforced "an unreasonable restraint of trade", according to a statement of claim lodged with the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Folau, a devout Christian, had his contract terminated for a "high-level breach" after he posted "hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" on Instagram.

Rugby Australia and Folau failed to reach a settlement in June over the full-back's sacking and an unfair dismissal case began in court earlier this month.

A statement of claim published by the Federal Circuit Court showed Folau is stating his inability to play international rugby due to the termination of his contract constitutes "unreasonable restraint", referring to "public policy".

It also suggests the direction of a tribunal was "void" and there was an "absence of any valid finding".

A section of the 26-page document reads: "The decision of the tribunal that termination of the player contract was the appropriate sanction to be imposed, and its direction to that effect, has the consequence that Mr Folau can no longer play rugby union at an international level [because he is only eligible to play for the Wallabies] or an Australian team in the Super Rugby competition and is therefore an unreasonable restraint of trade, contrary to public policy, and void.

"By reason of the decision and subsequent direction of the tribunal being void and of no effect, it was a breach of the player contract for Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW to terminate the player contract in the absence of any valid finding by the tribunal."

Another part of the statement adds: "It is injurious and inimical to the public interest, and therefore against public policy, for a condition in a contract of employment to allow an employer to prohibit an employee, in their own time, from having or adopting any religion or belief, manifesting their religion or belief or imparting or sharing religious information and ideas, provided that the employee otherwise acts lawfully.

"Insofar as any term of the player contract, including any term of the code of conduct, prohibited Mr Folau, in his own time, from manifesting his religion or belief or from imparting or sharing religious information and ideas, provided he acted lawfully, the term - to the extent that it otherwise would have had such an operation and effect - was against public policy and therefore void at law and of no effect.

"In the premises, under the player contract, Mr Folau was free, in his own time, to manifest his religion or belief or to impart or share religious information and ideas, provided he acted lawfully, and as a consequence, the social media posts were not a breach of the player contract by Mr Folau."

In an open letter to Rugby Australia members in June, Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle wrote: "I want to make clear that RA has acted with complete professionalism and integrity at all times through the process by which Israel was found, by an independent three-member tribunal panel, to have made multiple, serious breaches of the professional players code of conduct.

"This is an employment matter and does not concern his religious beliefs or his ability to express them freely. If some of you follow Israel's social accounts, you will have noticed he has posted religious material freely and openly over the last few years."

The case will go to mediation in December but, if a resolution is not found, the parties could face trial in February.

Jofra Archer feared he had cost England the Ashes when his efforts to match Ben Stokes' big hitting in the third Test came up short.

With just Stuart Broad and Jack Leach to come in the order, Archer appeared to represent England's last realistic hope as they chased a target of 359 to beat Australia and level the series at Headingley.

Archer, the star of the drawn second match at Lord's when on debut, hit three fours and made 15 but was then caught on the boundary by Travis Head to reduce the home side to 286-8.

Leaving Stokes to do the heavy lifting all by himself, Archer thought he had blown England's last chance for glory in Leeds.

"I wanted to make it less hard work for Ben, but I got out," he told reporters. "I thought I had messed the series up - not just the game but the series.

"So I am very relieved that we are still alive and fighting. Your coach always tells you, 'Don't leave it for anyone else'. I tried to do as much of it as I could.

"We have all seen enough cricket to know 80 to win with just one wicket left against the Australian bowling attack...

"We were very grateful to be on the winning side, that is all I can say."

Leach proved to be the unlikely hero to assist Stokes, however, as England pulled off a sensational recovery with their last-wicket pair at the crease.

The hosts won in similarly dramatic fashion in the Cricket World Cup final against New Zealand and Archer believes these narrow victories provide a confidence boost to the players.

"I still watch the World Cup highlights," he said. "But all I can say is that Headingley game was special. When [Nathan] Lyon fumbled the run out, you could hear a heartbeat in the dressing room.

"It just shows our fight. No one rolled over and played dead, everyone wanted to win, even the number 11 was very keen to get stuck in. He (Leach) will be called upon again at some point in the series.

"We got a taste of what it is like to win from nowhere, so I guess we can take that on with us."

Windies off-spinner Anisa Mohammed has been included in the 13-member West Indies Women’s squad to play the three-match Colonial Medical Insurance One Day International (ODI) Series against Australia, starting on September 5 in Antigua.

England paceman Jofra Archer hit back at Australia batsman Steve Smith as the pair traded jibes ahead of the fourth Ashes Test.

Smith is set to return from a concussion at Old Trafford when the fourth Test begins on Wednesday, in a huge boost for the tourists with the series locked at 1-1.

The star batsman was ruled out of the third Test, which England incredibly won by one wicket, after being hit by an Archer bouncer at Lord's.

Smith reminded fans Archer was yet to get him out during the Ashes and the England paceman offered a response.

"Well, I can't get him out if he wasn't there," he told UK newspapers, via The Guardian.

"But there'll be more than ample time to get him out. I'm not saying I won't get him out but if we don't get him out there's 10 other people we can get out and if he's stranded on 40 that's not helping his team too much.

"He can't do it all himself. We want to win the game. I'm not here to get caught up in a contest with one man. I want to win the Ashes."

Led by Ben Stokes (135 not out), England incredibly chased down a target of 359 to draw level in the series at Headingley.

Archer believes that win is set to give the hosts a psychological advantage for the remainder of the series.

"That's the thing, never get complacent. To be fair, 359 runs is a lot of runs. The crowd started to get on their backs as well, I think they panicked a bit," he said.

"They probably thought they were going to roll us if they got a few quick early wickets but they didn't and I'm glad we showed some resistance because the series isn't over and in the upcoming games I don't think they'll declare now.

"If they do have a chance I don't think they'll be too attacking. If they draw the series they still get to retain the Ashes."

Usman Khawaja insisted England's miraculous triumph in the third Test at Headingley has only fuelled Australia's desire to retain the Ashes.

Ben Stokes' inspired display kept the five-Test series alive as hosts England amassed their highest ever fourth-innings run chase in Leeds, where the hosts prevailed by one wicket last week.

Australia, however, will be able to welcome talisman Steve Smith back to the fold for the Old Trafford Test after the star batsman missed the Headingley clash due to a concussion sustained at Lord's.

Smith will play a three-day tour match against Derbyshire, with Khawaja captaining an Australia side which also includes Marcus Harris, Cameron Bancroft and Marnus Labuschagne.

Khawaja acknowledged Australia's defeat was a tough blow to take, but he has no doubt the tourists will bounce back before the end of the series, with one win from the two remaining Tests enough to retain the urn.

"Disappointing for us but hopefully it'll make the next game or the game after even more sweet when we do win," Khawaja said. "It was an excellent innings [from Stokes]. The way it ended, the drama, you couldn't write a script like that. It was heartbreaking for us as a team.

"It was a good game if you look at it from the eyes of a fan, what an amazing game.  I hope it's not too much of an epic [series]. The last game was clearly epic for England fans, and there have been great Ashes rivalries and games. 

"We played beautifully in the last game, we were so close to winning the Ashes, and if a few things go our way at the end then we would have done.

"We've played some really good cricket and we're confident we'll get that win."

With the fourth Test not starting until September 4, there is a 10-day gap between the matches, though Khawaja does not believe it will have been easier for Australia if the break was a shorter one. 

"It doesn't make much difference. We already had two Tests back-to-back so it was pretty tough," Khawaja said.

"It's nice to get a bit of a break, refresh and go for the next two. Test cricket's always hard work, always tough competition. There's a lot of depth with Australia's squad, and they all deserve to play which is a good thing."

Chris Woakes has conceded he doubted even Ben Stokes could turn the tide in the third Ashes Test between England and Australia at Headingley.

Stokes amassed an incredible 135 not out and led a 76-run stand for the last wicket alongside number 11 Jack Leach as the hosts, who were all out for 67 in their first innings, chased down an unlikely target of 359 to level the series at 1-1 on Sunday.

Woakes witnessed a similarly superb performance from Stokes in a dramatic Cricket World Cup final victory over New Zealand in July, though he thought England's chances of keeping the Ashes alive in Leeds were all but over.

"I've seen Ben do some incredible things on the cricket field but I thought this one was just out of reach for him to be honest," Woakes told the BBC's Stumped programme.

"I thought he was done, it was done, and when the score starts creeping down to about 50 to win you start thinking, 'What if I'd been able to build a little bit of a partnership and get a bit closer?'

"We were kind of resigned to the fact that it was pretty much done.

"It was a very nervous and tense dressing room, and the closer Stokesy and Jack got the more tense it got, because we started thinking it was possible, which is a dangerous place to be."

England made their way back onto the field several hours after the game, and Woakes believes it was important to revel in the achievement.

"We went onto the outfield as a team to share the moment," he said.

"Although we realise it's mid-series, it was important to realise how special that game actually was, for Stokesy to do something unbelievable and incredible and you probably won't see that again."

Ben Stokes believes his remarkable Headingley heroics can only be truly judged if they lead to England regaining the Ashes.

Stokes compiled a sensational 135 not out as England chased down 359 to claim a one-wicket win in Leeds last week, levelling the five-match series at 1-1 after three Tests.

The all-rounder's blistering assault in a last-wicket stand of 76 alongside Jack Leach effectively secured him national-hero status – six weeks on from his man-of-the-match showing in a similarly breathless Cricket World Cup final triumph against New Zealand.

Stokes' career is increasingly one of incredible deeds – his Test best of 258 versus South Africa in 2016 another stand-out moment – but the 28-year-old thinks his latest exploits will only feel worthwhile if England take back possession of the urn.

"At the moment, it was right up there, when we hit the winning runs," he told Sky Sports News.

"I remember telling the lads at lunchtime [on Sunday] when we'd only lost the one wicket, 'Everything we've done in those two hours means nothing if we don't win this game.'

"It sort of feels the same. If we don't get these Ashes back, what will it feel like? I would take real satisfaction out of that innings if we end up winning the Ashes, because I'll know it got us back into the series."

Nevertheless, Stokes appreciates he and his team-mates are playing at a momentous and potentially influential time for the sport in their homeland.

"We are very aware as a team and as players we have a responsibility to inspire the next generation of cricketers," he said.

"With what we did in the first half of the summer at the World Cup, we did that. Our goal is to keep trying to improve that and keep trying to get more people into the game.

"Hopefully if we can win the Ashes then we'll see the next generation of cricketers coming out in England over the next 20 years."

Leach's part in Stokes' match-winning effort will live similarly long in the memory after the number 11 repelled 17 balls – concluding with the single that brought the scores level.

The Somerset left-arm spinner frequently cleaned his glasses between deliveries and Specsavers have agreed to provide Leach with free spectacles for life after Stokes lobbied the opticians to do so on Twitter.

"That's been everywhere," Stokes chuckled. "Jack Leach cleaning his glasses is a pretty iconic picture that's been taken from that game.

"I've seen the video of him running down the wicket after we won that game has gone viral as well.

"He's obviously got to take a lot of credit for us being able to get over the line. Those 17 balls he faced are probably the most crucial he's ever going to have in his career."

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