The England-Australia series will continue in 2023 because of a close game at Headingley.
At a sunny Headingley, pint glasses flew through the air and beer sprayed on the heads of happy fans.
It was 2019 all over again.
Ben Stokes kept England’s dreams of winning the Ashes alive on that Sunday in Leeds.
Now, Chris Woakes was standing with his bat in one hand and his fist in the other in front of the famous Western Terrace. He had just hit the winning runs.
As the dust cleared, Woakes sat in the Headingley locker room with his pads on and puffed out his cheeks, just like Stokes had done four years before.
Stokes, on the other hand, gave his teammates hugs, just like his captain, Joe Root, had done before.
“It’s a completely different place when you can’t do anything,” said Stokes.
“I’m not going to lie, but at the end I was a little scared.
“In the last half-hour, I walked about 2 km around the Headingley changing room. I actually didn’t see the last 20 runs get scored.”
This fourth-day nail-biter at Headingley started with the same roar as two England hitters stepped up to the plate.
Solid defensive moves and every run were cheered, and not just because England fans wanted to. It is better to be doing something, anything, when your body is so tense.
As wickets fell, the stress kept getting worse. The tapping of the foot, the shifting in your seat, and the arms being thrown up by themselves.
Just after lunch, Headingley was afraid of what was about to happen.
Stokes, the guardian, flicks at one down the leg side. At first, there was quiet. He couldn’t have stolen it, and Stokes couldn’t have stolen it, either. Then, people realized that England’s captain was heading for the locker room.
But if there is one thing these people like more than Stokes, it is one of their own. Before the game, Stokes said it.
He said, “They love it so much that people from Yorkshire walk out and play here.”
Step up Harry Brooke. The 24-year-old learned how to play the game 11 miles away in Burley-in-Wharfedale, a small town in Yorkshire. As a young man, he played his first game for the county right here.
And Brook broke a record by getting four hundreds in his first six Tests. He did this in Rawalpindi, Multan, Karachi, and Wellington. None of those scores came in the Ashes or with the weight of a country on his shoulders.
Still, he led England through their most dangerous times, when the Australians and their few supporters could feel the moment they had been waiting for for 22 years: an Ashes win at the home of the enemy.
Brook was only 75, but he was much older than that. It got England close to winning before Woakes and Mark Wood finished the job.
Brook has the world at his feet and more than £1 million from franchise leagues in the bank, but he was probably thinking about his happiest moment as he stood on the outfield with his family drinking a beer.
In reality, the biggest difference between this England win and the one in 2019 was that this win was a team effort and not a barely possible one-man rescue act.
As usual, Stokes did his job. Pat Cummins would be thinking about which barber to go to for a picture with the urn if he hadn’t scored 80 in the first innings.
But Wood’s raw speed has changed the game by making Australia’s lower order players move around a lot. England now has a weapon to be afraid of.
This week, England has also looked more focused. This could be because of how important their situation is or because they were criticized for being too casual in the first two Tests.
Before the game, when Jonny Bairstow-gate was making a lot of noise and Stokes and Root were carefully planning their way through media conferences, crazy expectations of a 150-run win were long gone.
At Lord’s, there were times when the hosts had to be convinced to bowl when the conditions were perfect.
Here, Stokes spoke to his team as they huddled around the field on the third day, before Australia’s bowlers came out into the dark.
Because of this, a cricket team and series have been brought back to life, and the show is ready to go.
As an Englishman, it’s easy for me to say this, but no one wanted a show that was supposed to be the best in a generation to end before the end of hot summer.
It has kept us interested for three games: the Birmingham belter, the Rumble in north London, and the Headingley hair-raiser. It is now done the way it should be.
Both leaders have said that their teams can do better, and they both need to answer some questions.
Does James Anderson play for England back where he was born? Can wicketkeeper Bairstow keep his job as long as he keeps dropping catches and, even worse, letting others take them?
Who will take the place of England at number three?
Cummins was asked if David Warner would keep his spot after two scores in the single digits. He said, “We’ll keep all our options open,” which won’t stop rumors.
The teams will play again in Manchester in 10 days, which gives us all just enough time to get ready.
We might be about to party like it’s 2005, not 2019…