Joe Root ecstatic with ‘outrageous’ Stokes and ‘incredible’ Leach

Joe Root Headingley England Australia Ashes PA

England captain Joe Root overflowed with jubilation after his a last-wicket stand of 76 inspired England to victory at Headingley, and gave Root his first Ashes win as captain.

On a dramatic day of Test cricket up there with anything 2005 had to offer, England regained parity in the series after they completed their highest ever run chase in Tests (359) to defeat Australia in Leeds.

Ben Stokes was once again the leading man in the show – his 11 fours and eight sixes thrusting England to victory in red-hot temperatures.

The final hour of play rivalled the epic World Cup final in terms of drama, with Australia coming just inches away from taking the final wicket on a number of occasions.

Catches were dropped, sixes cleared the rope by mere inches and trusty old umpire Joel Wilson even offered a helping hand as Leach survived an LBW scare with England needing single figure runs to win at the time.

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

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

Speaking after the match, the winning captain Joe Root said: “We said at the start of the day, ‘we just have to believe’ and while two people are alive and breathing, we have a chance.

“We’ve seen some freakish things already this summer in the World Cup but I didn’t think we’d see something similar in this series.

“It was an incredible game of cricket, an incredible atmosphere and Test cricket is alive and kicking. This Ashes is alive and kicking.”

Ben Stokes Jack Leach Ashes PA

Asked about Stokes’ display, he said: “That was just incredible. To try and sum that up in words is pretty much impossible. Outrageous batting.”

Jack Leach once again proved stern in his desire to remain a tough out. The tailender contributed just one run in the 76-run partnership, but ably saw off the Australian seamers when called into action.

Speaking on the role Leach played, Root said: “The fact that he is so calm to be able to take off his glasses and clean them between balls, he’s very much in the moment and he was a big part of that partnership.

“It takes two guys, regardless of how big a role you play, you’ve both got to be in it and he certainly did a fantastic job. I’m still trying to get my head around it. Amazing.”