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England’s Ben Stokes says his match-winning heroics in the third Ashes Test of the summer at Headingley were motivated by Australia’s David Warner.
Stokes’ unbeaten 135 helped England to one of their greatest victories as they levelled the series at 1-1.
In the chase of an England record 359, Stokes’ innings also included a 76-run stand with last man Jack Leach.
“He just wouldn’t shut up for most of my time out there,” Stokes said of Warner, in his new book ‘On Fire’.
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An Australia win, which would have seen them retain the Ashes after the third Test, seemed almost certain when the tourists bowled England out for 67 on day two.
However, Stokes, who scored only three runs off his first 73 balls after arriving at the crease on the Saturday evening, and who was dropped on 34 by Warner at slip, had other ideas.
“I had extra personal motivation due to some things that were said to me out on the field on the evening of day three when I was trying to get through to stumps,” recalls Stokes, whose book is being serialised in the Mirror.
“A few of the Aussies were being quite chirpy but, in particular, David Warner seemed to have his heart set on disrupting me.
“I could accept it from just about any other opponent. Truly. Not from him, though.
“The changed man he was adamant he’d become, the one that hardly said boo to a goose and even went as far as claiming he had been re-nicknamed ‘Humble’ by his Australia team-mates, had disappeared. Maybe his lack of form in his new guise had persuaded him that he needed to get ‘the bull’ back?
“Although he’d enjoyed a prolific World Cup campaign, he had struggled with the bat at the start of the Ashes and was perhaps turning to his old ways to try to get the best out of himself. The nice guy act had done nothing for his runs column.”
Stokes’ 219-ball innings, which came six weeks after his remarkable unbeaten 84 in the World Cup final, included 11 fours and eight sixes, with Warner acting as his motivation.
“I muttered ‘Bloody Warner’ a few times as I was getting changed,” wrote the all-rounder.
“The more time passed, the more it spurred me on. All kinds of ideas of what I might say to him at the end of the game went through my head.
“In the end, I vowed to do nothing other than shake his hand and say ‘Well done’ if I could manufacture the situation. You always shake the hands of every member of the opposing team at the end of a match. But this one would give me the greatest sense of satisfaction.”
Although Australia would win the fourth Test to retain the Ashes, the series was drawn 2-2. Warner finished with an average of just 9.5 from his 10 innings.
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