Having batted in stifling heat for the best part of two sessions while facing a high-quality bowling attack of pace and spin England’s Ben Stokes produced some of the most explosive Power Hitting ever seen in a Test Match to turn the current Ashes Series completely around. At 9 down for 280 odd the Test Match appeared lost and the Ashes were set to remain firmly in the hands of Australia.
Given the time he had already been at the crease which was as sun-soaked as an Aussie beach in summer no one would have blamed Stokes or his last-ditch partner Leach if one of them had lost their wicket and gone inside for a cooling beer. The Australians had England by the short and curly’s and it appeared only a matter of balls before the whole thing was over.
Stokes’ innings and the shot play that took the home side from the depths of despair to victory was a testament to the development work the English players have been putting in behind the scenes under the guidance of specialist batting coach Julian Wood. The style of hitting was clean and powerful with Stokes able to use good footwork to position his body in the right areas so that the ball either cleared the boundary or pierced the field. It was the sort of hitting that comes about as a result of long periods of resistance training using specialized hitting drills and specialized training equipment.
The other feature about Stoles’ hitting was that it came at a time where most players would have been fatigued and mentally drained. The hitting was awesome but more importantly, it demonstrated a level of fitness and endurance not possessed by a lot of Test Cricketers. The level of endurance that Stokes has ascertained through working with Julian Wood’s programs meant that he was able to remain mentally focussed and able to concentrate at the levels required, given the state of the game and the dire position his team was in. Throughout the final period when the last two chased down 70 odd runs to win the match Stokes appeared totally in control and he exuberated an air that suggested he knew exactly what he had to do, how best to do it and when best to unleash game-changing shot play.
The innings was without doubt one of the best test innings ever played.