'Knock-off Nando's' fuelled match-winning Ashes innings for Stokes

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has revealed his preparation for his inspirational match-winning innings against Australia at Headingley was a "knock-off Nando's" and Yorkie bars.

Stokes hit 135 not out, channelled the spirit of Sir Ian Botham in 1981 and even eclipsed his match-winning turn in the World Cup final to lead England to their record chase of 359.

Australia looked to be on the verge of retaining the urn after reducing England to 286 for nine but an unforgettable last wicket union between Stokes and Jack Leach – who contributed one in an unbroken 76-run partnership – altered the course of the series, at least for now.

No lesser authorities than Geoffrey Boycott, Michael Vaughan and Sir Alastair Cook were queuing up to hail Stokes' knock as the best in history by an Englishman.

Stokes said: "I'm obviously over the moon that we've managed to stay in the series. We knew if we lost this game then the Ashes were gone.

"When a number 11 comes out needing 70 to win, I knew what I had to do in terms of the game situation. The only time I started to get a little bit nervous or panicking was when we got into single figures.

"To be sat here, especially after getting bowled out for 67 (in the first innings), to still be in with a chance of getting the urn back is an amazing feeling.

"Walking off there at the end when the whole of Headingley was standing up and celebrating was a very special moment and something I had to try to take in because moments like that don't come along very often."

Stokes, who admitted his day was "certainly close" to topping what happened at the World Cup, went to stumps on Saturday evening on two not out from 50 balls, as he and captain Joe Root defied Australia in a punishing final session.

Asked about what he did overnight, Stokes replied: "My wife and kids came down and they got there at around 10 o'clock. My wife walked into me eating pasta in my boxer shorts!

"Last night, I think had a knock-off Nandos and two bars of Yorkie biscuit and raisin. And a couple of coffees in the morning."

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Stokes leads England to epic win
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Stokes leads England to epic win
England's Ben Stokes celebrates victory with Jack Leach (left) during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
The big screen shows that England need just 1 run to win with 1 wicket left during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Ben Stokes celebrates victory during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Ben Stokes celebrates victory during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Ben Stokes celebrates winning the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Ben Stokes celebrates winning the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Ben Stokes celebrates victory with Jack Leach (left) during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Ben Stokes celebrates winning the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Ben Stokes celebrates victory with Jack Leach (left) during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Ben Stokes celebrates victory during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Ben Stokes in batting action during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England fans enjoy themselves in the stands during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
Australia's Marnus Labuschagne fails to stop a six from England's Ben Stokes during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Jofra Archer leaves the field after being caught out by Australia's Travis Head, bowled by Nathan Lyon, during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Ben Stokes in batting action during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
The big screen shows that England need 100 more runs to win with 4 wickets left during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
Australia's Josh Hazlewood (centre right) celebrates taking the wicket of England's Chris Woakes, caught by Matthew Wade (left), during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Jos Buttler leaves the field after being run-out during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
Spectators enjoy themselves in the stands during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
A spectator in fancy dress as The Mask in the stands during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Jonny Bairstow reacts after being dismissed by Australia's Josh Hazlewood, caught by Marnus Labuschagne, during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
Australia's Josh Hazlewood (second left) celebrates taking the wicket of England's Jonny Bairstow, caught by Marnus Labuschagne, during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Jonny Bairstow leaves the field after being dismissed by Australia's Josh Hazlewood, caught by Marnus Labuschagne, during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
Spectators in the stands during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Ben Stokes (right) and Jonny Bairstow (left) walk off for lunch during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Ben Stokes in batting action during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Ben Stokes is hit in the helmet during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Ben Stokes inspects his helmet after being hit during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
Australia's Nathan Lyon celebrates the wicket of England's Joe Root during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Joe Root waits to bat during day four of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
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Stokes started with circumspection on Sunday but gradually moved through the gears as he ran out of partners, teeing off once Leach was at the crease to finish with 11 fours and eight sixes.

There were two major slices of fortune towards a breathtaking finale as, first, Nathan Lyon fumbled the ball when Leach was backing up down the track with two runs required. He was sent back and only made his ground because the off-spinner could not cleanly gather the throw.

Stokes said: "I think Jack Leach must somehow have been watching Monty Panesar at Cardiff. I could not believe when I looked up. Me and Leachy could have had a conversation he was that close to me.

"That was huge panic stations there because he was so far out. Obviously in that pressure situations in games cam really affect what a human does. Nine times out of 10 Nathan Lyon would pick that ball up and take the stumps off."

From the very next delivery, Stokes was rapped on the pad by Lyon but Australia's desperate pleas for umpire Joel Wilson to raise his finger were ignored. Australia had burned their last remaining review in the previous over, meaning the decision stood.

Stokes added: "I knew it wasn't out against Jack Leach. I have seen the DRS on my lbw shout, which obviously shows up with three reds, but DRS has got that completely wrong, as it flicked my front pad first and didn't spin.

"It shows how crucial it is to make sure you use your reviews. When you get to a situation like that, you still need one.

"If they had one they would have used it and ended up winning. I still cannot believe it was three reds."

Root described his deputy in glowing terms, with Stokes also taking three for 56 in Australia's second innings during a tireless 24.2-over spell across two sessions only broken up by Jofra Archer's four balls.

"He's a bit of a freak to be able to, time and time again, produce match-winning performances like that," Root said.

"He's the ultimate team man, will do everything for every single player – that's why he's a brilliant vice-captain, he drags people with him. He stood up and that's exactly what you want from your leaders."

On levelling the series at 1-1, he added: "I'm going to struggle to put it into words and will for a very long time."

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