Paine rues missed opportunities; hails Stokes’ greatest ever Test innings

Tim Paine

Australia captain Tim Paine was left ruing the third Test as a missed opportunity for Australia to regain the Ashes after just three Tests, but congratulated Ben Stokes on what he described as ‘the best Test innings he’s ever seen’.

Australia appeared on course to reclaim the urn when Jack Leach came to the crease with England still requiring 73 runs to win.

Up stepped Ben Stokes, however, as the Durham all-rounder blasted 11 fours and eight sixes on his way to a match-winning 135 not out.

The innings completed England’s highest ever run chase in Test cricket (359) and squared the series up at one match a piece with two Tests remaining.

Speaking to Sky Sports’ Michael Atherton following the match, captain Paine said: “It’s hard to take but you’ve got to tip your hat sometimes.

“I thought Ben Stokes played an unbelievable innings and in the end he was too good for us.

Asked whether he and the world had witnessed something special today, Paine replied: “Yeah absolutely, that’s probably the best Test innings I’ve seen so it’s well played Ben.”

READ: Ben Stokes reacts to England’s greatest ever Test run-chase

The air was taken out of the crowd after Jos Buttler inexplicably ran himself out after a mix-up with Ben Stokes. The wicket of Chris Woakes soon followed, and after a brief cameo from Jofra Archer, Broad soon came and fell as well.

Asked whether he felt like Australia had the contest under control, Paine said: “Yeah it was, I thought we had enough runs and I thought our bowlers did a tremendous job yesterday to get us into the position that we were.

“I thought that if we were able to continue that this morning that we’d create enough chances to win the game and in the end we probably did.

Ben Stokes Ashes PA

“But in the end Ben has played a wonderful innings and I thought both Joe Denly and Joe Root were excellent yesterday and kept them in it. I thought it was a terrific Test match.

“When Ben was at the crease you’re always worried, he controls the game very well. There’s probably things we could’ve done differently but cricket is a game of inches and we had opportunities ourselves.

“It tests your character but it’s not the end of the world. It’s only one match and we’re here to win the series and we still have two opportunities to go and do that.”

When quizzed on whether he feels this emotional victory could get on top of the touring Australians, Paine replied: “It can if you let it, but we’ve spoken a lot about playing with skill and not emotion. We’ve got great processes in place and have created enough chances to win two Test matches. If we continue to do what we do we think we’ll be right in the mix in the next two matches.”