The innings Ben Stokes played against Australia at Headingley to win the third Test of the 2019 Ashes series was one of the most incredible that have been seen in recent times. With his team one wicket away from losing the Test and more than 70 runs needed to win, Stokes launched a great offensive to earn a memorable victory.
Now, the celebrated all-rounder has written a book about the summer of 2019 where he first led his team to World Cup glory and then produced an epic inning in the Ashes series that followed. Excerpts of that book have been published in Daily Mirror newspaper.
One of the excerpts reveals some very exciting information about that famous Headingley knock. The left-handed batsman recounts that the Australians were sledging him a lot when he was at the crease. He further reveals that David Warner, who was supposedly chastised after serving a one-year ban for his role in the sandpaper-gate controversy, was back to his bad old ways.
"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," Stokes has written.
The New Zealand-born all-rounder also expressed his surprise at the fact that Warner seemed to be going back to the same style of behaviour which antagonised so many people.
"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?"
The last observation is quite pertinent. Warner had a horrid series where he scored just one half-century in 10 innings and was dismissed innumerable times by Stuart Broad. This led many to think that the restrictions that Warner was putting on himself were also preventing him from playing his natural game and, thereby, achieving a higher level of success.
Stokes even admitted to saying "Bloody Warner" several times to himself. The incessant verbal volleys from the Australian opener so irritated the English vice-captain that he got more motivated to win the match.
"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." Considering what eventually happened, one can say that Warner's big mouth came back to bit him.