Justin Langer: 'I still have nightmares over Ben Stokes's Headingley heroics'

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  • Justin Langer
    Australian cricketer
  • Ben Stokes
    Ben Stokes
    Cricketer (born 1991)
Ben Stokes at Headingley, 2019 - Ashes England Australia Justin Langer: 'I still have nightmares over Ben Stokes's Headingley heroics' - PA
Ben Stokes at Headingley, 2019 - Ashes England Australia Justin Langer: 'I still have nightmares over Ben Stokes's Headingley heroics' - PA

Justin Langer still has “nightmares” about Ben Stokes’s Headingley heroics but is happy the England all-rounder will be playing in the Ashes series, believing it lifts the whole contest.

The Amazon fly-on-the-wall documentary, The Test, filmed during the last Ashes series showed Australia head coach Langer kicking a dustbin over in the Headingley dressing room as Stokes stroked the winning runs to complete one of Test cricket’s greatest comebacks.

Stokes’s 135 not-out rallied England to a one-wicket win and stitched his name in Ashes folklore. His late call-up for this tour, once he had proved his fitness from a broken finger, instantly improved England’s hopes and provided Australia with an opponent they genuinely fear.

"He's a great cricketer, no doubt about that," said Langer. "I still have nightmares about his innings in that third Test. I probably have more nightmares about his [bowling] spell on day three of that game. He's an unbelievable athlete and a great competitor.

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

Langer also stated he believes Tim Paine could play for Australia again despite the 36-year-old taking an indefinite break after losing his job as captain for sending sexually explicit texts to a woman four years ago.

Langer visited Paine in Hobart last week to give him some support as he reels from his public humiliation.

"He has been such an exemplary figure in Australian cricket for the last four years particularly. His life has changed, obviously. But you'd have to ask him how he's going," said Langer.

"It was important to see him, we talked about looking after our boys and having each other's backs. It was a no-brainer for me to go and see him. What I see, I continually see in this job and see in the society we live in, it's brutal.

"As I said in my very first press conference when I was asked about Steve Smith and David Warner and Cameron Bancroft [after the sandpaper ball-tampering scandal in South Africa] - there's not one person who is asking questions here, or who is on the camera here, or who is listening to this or watching who hasn't made a mistake in their life.

"There's not a single person. Our captain, one of the best, made a mistake and is paying a heavy price for it.

"He absolutely loves cricket. He's as fit as any athlete, certainly in our squad and we've got some fit athletes. He looks after himself so well. Who knows. His No 1 priority at the moment is his family and that's how it should be. [I'm] not sure we've seen the end of him but we'll wait and see - that will be his decision."

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