As the world rightfully fawns over Ben Stokes' stunning unbeaten century that won the third Ashes Test for England, the reality is Australia has to shoulder some of the blame for losing one of the most thrilling games of cricket ever witnessed.

Stokes' 135 not out was batting from another planet as he bludgeoned England to its highest ever successful run chase in Tests, hauling in the target of 359 on day four at Headingley to level the Ashes up at 1-1 with two matches to play.

But Australia could have stopped him had it not been for some crucial errors.



In that same Lyon over the tweaker could have ended the game had he been cleaner with his hands. But the pressure got to him.

A huge mix-up saw Leach sprint off from the nonstriker's end for a single when Stokes hit a ball to backward point, but the all-rounder stood his ground and sent the No. 11 back.

Leach was gone for all money and looked like emulating Allan Donald in the 1999 World Cup semi-final as Cummins threw the ball back to Lyon.

The tailender was metres out of his ground but the ball slipped through Lyon's grasp and instead of knocking the bails off and celebrating retaining the Ashes, he kept on bowling and was unable to repair the damage.

Paine said Lyon was obviously shattered but it was important he didn't hold onto his disappointment for too long so it doesn't negatively impact Australia's bid to dust itself off in time for the next Test in Manchester.

"Gazza is obviously extremely disappointed, but no one's perfect, people make mistakes and that happens," Paine said.

"The important thing is that when it happens you cop it on the chin, you hold your head up and you stick together as a team and you walk off together.

"It was just about getting Gazza up, he's a really important player in our side and I said to him that if our players see him dealing with it really quickly and moving on then our younger players are going to do the same thing and we turn up to Manchester or our next training session in a much better frame of mind rather than have guys sulking or whatever you want to call it."



When England needed 40 runs to win, Stokes tucked a ball into the leg side and, sensing he'd split the fielders at fine leg and deep backward square leg, pushed hard for two so he could add some extra runs to the total and keep the strike.

But he didn't place the ball as well as he thought and Marcus Harris got to it a lot quicker than he realised. Still, Stokes called Leach through for the second.

A good throw would have seen Stokes run out but Harris threw to the wrong end — sending the ball back to Pat Cummins at the bowler's end rather than into Paine's gloves.

The crowd couldn't believe it and neither could Paine. The skipper stood at the stumps with his arms outstretched in a "please explain" gesture but Harris simply turned around and headed back into position.


The umpiring has come under fire since the first Test at Edgbaston and there were some dubious calls again in Leeds. But the Aussies lost their right to complain after their own failings in using the Decision Review System (DRS) cost them a 2-0 lead.

After bombing Nathan Lyon down the ground for six to put England within two runs of victory, Stokes tried to sweep the off-spinner a couple of balls later but missed. The ball struck him on the pad and Lyon and the rest of the Aussies pleaded with the umpire to raise his finger.

The desperate appeal was a fantastic shout but Joel Wilson was unmoved and because Australia had already wasted its two unsuccessful reviews, it could not go upstairs to challenge the call.

Had Tim Paine been able to use the technology, Australia would have won by a single run because Hawkeye showed the ball hit Stokes in line with the stumps and was going on to hit the pegs.

Paine strode down the pitch to speak to Wilson and was captured asking him twice: "What was that missing?"

But the reason Paine couldn't use the DRS is because Australia wasted its last review the over before. With eight runs required for victory and bowling from over the wicket, right-armer Pat Cummins hit the left-handed Jack Leach on the pad and despite doubts over the legitimacy of the appeal, Paine challenged.

It was an act of utter desperation that didn't pay off because the ball clearly pitched way outside leg stump.

Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting slammed the decision to review when Cummins' natural angle would have made it nearly impossible for Leach to be out LBW, saying in commentary for Sky Sports that blunder "cost them the Test Match".

On Twitter, former cricketer turned broadcaster Mike Haysman said: Well … also a horrendous burn of review in the previous over. Australia have been poor all series on reviews."

After the match Paine explained why he reviewed the Leach LBW. "I've got every review wrong so I'm going to give up, give it to someone else," Paine said.

"Patty Cummins said, 'I think it might have pitched in line but I think he might have hit it', and I said well he definitely didn't hit it but I was worried where it pitched.

"Then it was just a spur of the moment, we'll have a dabble at it but yeah, got it wrong."

Paine said he still has faith in Wilson's ability as an umpire, even after the official had an absolute shocker in the series-opener, and also commented on the not-out call for Lyon's LBW shout, saying: "I don't need to (see a replay). I saw it live, that's all I need to see. I don't want to watch that again."

Australia fail to run out Jack Leach to secure a one run win. Photo / Sky Sport
Australia fail to run out Jack Leach to secure a one run win. Photo / Sky Sport


Harris's forgettable day in the field continued, this time dropping Stokes when England needed 17 for victory.

Stokes slashed the first ball of Cummins' over down towards Harris at third man and the opening batsman came charging in while England supporters held their breath as the ball hung in the air.

Harris dived forwards and got to the ball on the full but he grassed the difficult chance. It was an extremely tough opportunity and few would begrudge him for shelling it but when Australia needed a hero or a moment of magic, the side was left wanting.

Making matters worse, Stokes got two runs for the mis-hit then clubbed his next two balls to the boundary to get even closer to the target.