Joe Root’s England need miracle to regain the Ashes in Australia… but Ben Stokes is capable of it and is our best hope


Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to achieve the Ashes on Australian soil for the first time in half a century.

You should seriously undercook it without any serious warm-up matches and continuing with the COVID restrictions.

Root's daunting task of trying to regain the Ashes on Australian soil in front of England


Root’s daunting task of trying to regain the Ashes on Australian soil in front of Englandcredit: getty
England didn't have ideal preparation for Ashes


England didn’t have ideal preparation for Ashescredit: Getty Images – Getty
Stokes returns to England for the first time since his break


Stokes returns to England for the first time since his breakcredit: getty

You must do it without a world-class bowler of pace or spin, and possibly with England’s worst batting line-up in living memory.

And you should do it against a player, Steve Smith, who averages over 100 in his last 15 Ashes innings.

Oh and remember that, in six of their last seven tours, England have not won a single Test while the urn has been on hold.

It will be impossible to face Joe Root’s side when The Ashes begins at ‘Gabtoire’ in Brisbane at midnight.

Which brings us to Ben Stokes, a man who often believes six impossible things before breakfast.

English cricket, which is in the grip of racism and fighting for its place in the national sporting consciousness, needs Stokes.

In fact, Test match cricket – which many of us consider to be the ultimate form of any sport – requires Stokes to compete in this, with the ever-smaller bish-bosch format giving it museum-piece status. threaten to surrender.

It doesn’t bode well for Stokes, who hasn’t played competitive cricket since July, who has taken a long break from the game to prioritize his mental well-being. Logically, a big impact cannot be expected from him.

Stokes, however, defies logic and he scares the Australians.

Captain Root is ranked as the world’s No. 1 Test batsman – but Stokes is the only English cricketer to intimidate Beggs from his greatest rivals.

Australia head coach Justin Langer admitted that more than two years later, he still has nightmares about Stokes’ extraordinary match-winning knock at Headingley in the last Ashes series.

At Leeds in 2019, it is well remembered that Stokes and Jack Leach led England to a miraculous one-wicket victory with a 76-run partnership, with the number 11 player making a famous contribution not out.

What is often forgotten is that Stokes scored three runs in the first 73 balls of that unbeaten century before his thrilling pyrotechnics. And also, during Australia’s second innings, the all-rounder bowled 15 overs unchanged, chasing an apparently disappointing cause.

In less than two months, Stokes had won the World Cup final for England in a game of ridiculous drama.

He refers to himself as “not a form player”, but as a cricketer who knows that, at any time, “something can happen to me”.

Stokes was not named in England’s original touring party as he continued his rest from the game.

Stokes had scored an unbeaten 135 in the third Test two years ago after beating Australia.


Stokes had scored an unbeaten 135 in the third Test two years ago after beating Getty Images – Getty

It would be pointless to imagine what Stokes did during that break, or the months of life in the Covid bubble that preceded it.

But something about the prospect of an Ashes tour forced him to make a comeback.

Perhaps he follows the old adage of spin-bowling legend Jim Laker that “the aim of English cricket is really mainly to beat Australia”.

Maybe it’s because eight years have passed since Stokes last played Test cricket and the 30-year-old will never have a chance again.

ECB owners refused to select Stokes for the 2017-18 Ashes tour as he awaits trial after an uproar outside the Bristol nightclub.

Stokes was effectively found guilty until proven innocent – ​​and a jury later cleared him of contention.

It was not a fashion, but the column expressed that Stokes should have played in that Ashes series.

He was considered a bad ‘role model’ by those who believed that players should parent their children to them.

In the summer of 2019, it was revealed that Stokes is the greatest role model English cricket could ever hope for.

England suffered a 4–0 loss on their previous visit to Australia – yet they had real opportunities to win the first two Tests, lacking Stokes’ extreme bloody mind and seized-moment ethos instead.


In these remarkable circumstances, against such extreme odds, we should not expect too much from them.

Yet Stokes wouldn’t have gotten on the plane if he didn’t believe he was capable of something special.

And when Stokes starts believing, nothing is impossible.


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