From one Headingley hero to another, English cricket great Sir Ian Botham has cautioned Ben Stokes that his life has changed forever.
On day four of the third Ashes Test between England and Australia at Headingley, Stokes punched a four into the off side to seal a record chase of 359. He finished not out on 135, an incredible innings that helped England to a one-wicket win that levelled the Ashes at 1-1 and elicited comparisons with Botham’s heroics at Headingley 38 years earlier during the 1981 Ashes.
In what has become known as the miracle of Headingley 1981, Botham scored an unbeaten 149 after England had been forced to follow-on against Australia, a fabled century that has come to occupy pride of place in English cricket history. His innings helped England set Australia a target of 130, which they failed to do as Bob Willis ransacked them with 8/43.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Botham termed Stokes ‘the Special One’ and said his life would never be the same.
“It changed my life overnight. I think Ben’s life will be the same. He will have no private life. He has to get used to that and so do the family,” he said. “He is public property but it is a great place to be in for the long term. It will set him up for life. He will reap the rewards which he richly deserves and he is now a world box-office attraction.”
Botham also hailed Stokes’ success in the ongoing Ashes – he was Man of the Match in the draw at Lord’s too, after scoring a century in England’s second innings – as testament to his desire to succeed in Tests.
“He will play all the T20 leagues but the refreshing thing about it all is he wants to play test cricket and do well in it. That is the ultimate test,” said Botham. “Five-day games ebb and flow. We were bowled out for 67 and in any other format it’ll be all over. Test cricket gives you room for something extraordinary to happen, and it happened.
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