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Ashes heroes: Ben Stokes

With the first Ashes Test starting on Friday 16th June at Edgbaston, we have taken a look at how England captain Ben Stokes has performed in previous battles for the little urn.

England have not held the Urn since winning the 2015 series 3-2 on home soil and they have suffered some chastening defeats since then, going down 4-0 in both 2017/18 and 2021/22 with a 2-2 draw wedged in between in 2019.

Stokes has the responsibility of trying to wrestle back the Urn from Australia this summer and he will be hoping to get off to the perfect start in the first Test at Edgbaston on 16th June.

England are 11/8 To Win Outright the Ashes Series 2023, while the draw is 6/1 and Australia are 11/10.

Before the two nations lock horns in this highly-anticipated five-Test series, which is scheduled to run from 16th June to 31st July, we have delved into the archives to pick out Stokes' best Ashes moments.

WhatAshes Series 2023
WhereEdgbaston, Lord's, Headingley, Old Trafford and The Oval
WhenFriday 16th June - Monday 31st July 2023
How to watchSky Sports Cricket
OddsEngland 11/8, Draw 6/1, Australia 11/10

2013/14 - Stokes makes his mark

The 2013/14 Ashes series proved to be a miserable one for England as they were whitewashed 5-0 Down Under and had very few positives to take from such a chastening defeat.

However, one player who came out of the series with his head held high was Stokes, who was named in an Ashes squad for the first time and showed just what he could do with the bat.

In the second innings of the third Test at the WACA, Stokes scored 120 from 195 balls, hitting 18 fours and a six, with his century described by The Guardian as "the only welcome positive for the future".

The now 32-year-old was the only English batter to score a hundred in the series and he finished the series as England's third-highest runscorer with 279 runs.

2015 - Bowling comes up trumps

The 2015 series was a much happier one for England as they managed to run out 3-2 winners, taking hold of the urn for the first time since 2013.

Leading 2-1 after three Tests, the Three Lions arrived at Trent Bridge hoping to seal a victory and they made the perfect start when bowling Australia out for just 60 in the first innings.

England then declared on 391/9, a lead of 331 runs, before Stokes produced one of the best bowling spells of his career to ensure the hosts claimed the series with a Test to spare.

The all-rounder took 6/36 from 21 overs in Nottingham and he ended the series as England's fourth-highest wicket-taker, while he was eighth-highest when including Australia's bowlers.

2019 - Historic Headingley heroics

The finest moment of Stokes' Ashes career to date is by far his sensational match-winning innings in the third Test at Headingley.

Having bowled Australia out for 179, England produced a calamity of a batting performance in reply as they were dismissed for just 67 -  their lowest score against the Baggy Greens in the Ashes since 1948.

After scoring 246 in their second innings, the Aussies had a lead of 358, meaning England would have to produce their highest ever run chase in Test cricket if they were to come out on top.

It was a more determined effort from the hosts in reply, but it all looked to be over when Jack Leach came to the crease to join Stokes with the score at 286/9, still trailing by 72 runs.

What came next was a truly magnificent batting performance from Stokes, who utilised the vast array of shots in his locker to send the Australia bowlers to all parts of the ground and finish unbeaten on 135 - an innings that included 11 fours and eight sixes.

It could have ended in disaster for the hosts, as firstly Nathan Lyon dropped the ball for an easy run-out, before the same bowler saw his LBW appeal turned down. With no reviews left, they had to watch on in dismay as replays showed the original decision would have been overturned.

After Leach managed to grab a quick single, his only run from 17 balls faced, Stokes would then end up crashing Pat Cummins for four to secure the victory and spark wild celebrations in Leeds.

Stokes' innings was rated by Wisden as the Greatest hundred of the decade (2010's) and he was also named as England's player of the series, as he ended as their top runscorer with 441 runs.

Stokes can be backed at 7/1 to England's Top Team Batter for the Ashes Series 2023, while Joe Root leads the way for his country at 6/4.

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