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Ben Stokes says England’s gripping win over New Zealand eclipses his 2019 Ashes heroics

‘That blows Headingley away!’: Ben Stokes says England’s poignant win over New Zealand overshadows his 2019 Ashes exploits after his side knocked out 299 in just 50 overs at Trent Bridge

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

Bairstow crashed 136 from 92 balls, and Stokes himself 75 not from 70, as England hit a 299 goal in just 50 overs with five wickets left.

It means they head to Headingley for the third test next week, aiming for a 3-0 whitewash over the world champions.

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

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

Stokes even said the triumph overshadowed his own Ashes exploits at Headingley in 2019

Stokes even said the triumph overshadowed his own Ashes exploits at Headingley in 2019

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

“That blows Headingley away, it blows away Lord’s and the World Cup final,” he said.

“Just emotional, and the joy of every minute I had on that pitch, it was unbelievable. The sky is the limit for this group of players, but we can probably go further than that.’

The damage was done during a deadly spell after the tea, when Bairstow and Stokes took the New Zealand 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 simply the fear of where the game was, rather than standing still or moving away from it,” the England captain said. “It was kind of like we either win or lose this game – that’s the mentality we wanted in all batters. It paid off.

“He had his “Jonny Eyes” on today, and when he gets those eyes on you, you know you’re onto 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 even – to play like he did when he got past 50 was just mind-boggling. It was phenomenal to watch.’

Jonny Bairstow was England's hero - he fired a thunderous 136 from just 92 deliveries

Jonny Bairstow was England’s hero – he fired a thunderous 136 from just 92 deliveries

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

Stokesy said, ‘Don’t even think about hitting the ball down – keep trying to plant it in the stands’. So I just did what the captain said.

“It’s an exciting start to an exciting journey we’re all on with Ben and Brendon. There is no challenge that is too much. There’s nothing we can’t do. There was no thought about drawing that game. We were winning.’

New Zealand captain Tom Latham was shocked by a shell shock. It will take the boys a moment to get through it. We thought we were in the game with 300 on the board, but you have to take your hats off to Jonny.’

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