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Langer still has 'nightmares' over Stokes' Headingley exploits



Photo: AFP

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Australia coach Justin Langer admitted Saturday he still has "nightmares" about Ben Stokes' exploits at Headingley in 2019, but said he was happy to see him back after a break from cricket.

While Australia retained the Ashes urn two years ago, the highlight of the series was the England all-rounder's heroics in their one-wicket win in the third Test at Leeds.

With just one wicket remaining and 73 runs needed for victory, Stokes steered England to their highest successful run chase in Tests with a memorable unbeaten 135.

"He's a great cricketer, no doubt about that. I still have nightmares about his innings in that third Test," Langer said in Brisbane ahead of the first Test at the Gabba starting Wednesday.

"I probably have more nightmares about his spell on day three of that game. He's an unbelievable athlete and a great competitor."

Stokes took an indefinite break from cricket in July to focus on his mental health and recover from two operations on a fractured left index finger.

It was unclear initially whether he would travel to Australia, but he was on the plane in a massive boost to England's hopes of reclaiming the Ashes.

"It's great for the game of cricket that Ben Stokes is playing Ashes cricket, and we all love it," said Langer.

"It's an Australian summer and it probably wouldn't be the same without the best players playing."

"It's nice to see and hopefully his health is good. We welcome him here because he is one of the superstars of the game," he added.

Rain has hampered England's preparations for the opening Test, but they did see some action on Friday with Stokes scoring 42 runs off 56 balls before retiring in an intra-squad practice match.