Ben Stokes says England's New Zealand win eclipses 2019 Ashes heroics

‘That blows away Headingley!’: Ben Stokes says England’s gripping win over New Zealand eclipses his 2019 Ashes heroics after his side knock off 299 in just 50 overs at Trent Bridge

  • England beat New Zealand by five wickets on an epic final day at Trent Bridge
  • Captain Ben Stokes led by example but Jonny Bairstow was the star of the show
  • But Stokes still hailed England’s win as the finest day of his career in sport 

Ben Stokes hailed the greatest day of his sporting life after a thunderous century from Jonny Bairstow inspired England to an astonishing win in the second Test against New Zealand in Nottingham.

Bairstow crashed 136 off 92 balls, and Stokes himself 75 not out from 70, as England knocked off a target of 299 in just 50 overs with five wickets to spare. It means they go to Headingley for next week’s third Test aiming for a 3-0 whitewash over the world champions.

For Stokes, the events of a raucous day at Trent Bridge – where spectators were allowed in for free – even surpassed his two career-defining performances in 2019.

Ben Stokes said England’s win over New Zealand was the best day in his sporting life

Stokes even said the triumph eclipsed his own Ashes heroics at Headingley back in 2019

‘That blows away Headingley, it blows away Lord’s and the World Cup final,’ he said. ‘Just emotionally, and the enjoyment of every minute I had on that field, it was incredible. The sky’s the limit for this group of players, but we could probably go further than that.’

The damage was done during a murderous spell after tea, when Bairstow and Stokes took New Zealand’s bowlers to the cleaners, extending their fifth-wicket stand to 179 in just 20.1 overs. Bairstow hit seven sixes, and Stokes four.

‘The message was just run into the fear of where the game was, rather than stand still or back away from it,’ said England’s captain. ‘It was pretty much we’re either winning this game or losing it – that’s the mentality we wanted all the batters to have. It paid off.

‘He had his “Jonny Eyes” on today, and when he gets those eyes on you know you’re on to something. That was one of the best things I’ve ever seen, to do it in the fourth innings, chasing a big total, with the game in the balance – to play the way he did once he got past 50 was just mind-blowing. It was phenomenal to watch.’

Asked about the Jonny Eyes, Bairstow said: ‘I’ll take that as a good compliment and it’s not the first time that has been mentioned. I’m hugely proud of the way I went about it, hugely proud of the fact that on day five we have come together as a group and won a Test for England.

Jonny Bairstow was England’s hero – firing a thunderous 136 from only 92 deliveries 

‘Stokesy said “don’t even think about hitting the ball down – just keep trying to plant it in the stands”. So I was just doing what the captain said.

‘It’s an exciting start to an exciting journey that we’re all on together with Ben and Brendon. There isn’t a challenge that’s too much. There isn’t anything we can’t do. There wasn’t a thought about drawing that game. We were winning it.’

A shellshocked New Zealand captain Tom Latham said his team were ‘pretty raw at the moment. The guys will take a little bit of time for it to sink in. We believed we were in the game with 300 on the board, but you have to take your hat off to Jonny.’

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