Why this win is England's second best away from home ever

Ollie Robinson, Jack Leach and Ben Stokes of England celebrate winning the First Test Match between Pakistan and England at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on December 05, 2022 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan - Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Ollie Robinson, Jack Leach and Ben Stokes of England celebrate winning the First Test Match between Pakistan and England at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on December 05, 2022 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan - Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Jack Leach said England’s win in Rawalpindi "beat Headingley" 2019 as he shared another golden moment with Ben Stokes.

Leach was at the other end when Stokes wrote his name in Ashes folklore with 135 not out to pull off the most miraculous Test comeback win of all time.

Then he was one not out in a 78 run stand and this time he took the winning wicket, his only in the innings, as England completed a dramatic victory in fading light.

"For me, I think it does [trump Headingley]. I just said that to Stokesy. I said, ‘Sorry, I think yeah it does beat Headingley, it was just amazing,” he said.

"It’s an unbelievable feeling. It felt like a very long game, but really rewarding at the end of it to come away with a win and obviously so many good performances from the boys. To finish it off I felt a bit of a fraud to be honest because these quick boys had done the work, but it was amazing.

"That's the greatest win I think I've ever been involved in, and obviously Headingley was amazing. But the way we tried to force something to happen and the way that so many people have contributed and it going right down to the end and just amazing."

England's Ben Stokes, right, with Jack Leach celebrates after scoring the winning runs on the fourth day of the 3rd Ashes Test cricket match between England and Australia at Headingley cricket ground in Leeds, England, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019 - AP Photo/Jon Super
England's Ben Stokes, right, with Jack Leach celebrates after scoring the winning runs on the fourth day of the 3rd Ashes Test cricket match between England and Australia at Headingley cricket ground in Leeds, England, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019 - AP Photo/Jon Super

Stokes: Even if you lose a game it's going to be amazing

Stokes described England’s win on the flattest of pitches as "mindblowing". He picked up a broken England team in May and has formed them into a formidable collective with all buying in to his methods.

"Personally I think this may be up there with England's greatest Test match away wins," said Stokes.

"It's incredible... pretty lost for words in that dressing room. I just think the hard work and toil that everyone has put in over the past five days has really hit everyone.

"Jimmy Anderson said to me at the presentation that he was getting quite emotional about this win. The guy has played nearly 180 Test matches, has experienced everything, the highs and lows of Test cricket, to hear him say that about this particular Test match, I think that really makes you how special an achievement this week has been, wearing this England shirt," said Stokes.

"One thing we’re trying to do is whatever situation we find ourselves in out in the field, it’s just enjoy it. A few times I said 'just enjoy the flatness': enjoy the challenge of trying to create something out of nowhere. The field placings were, obviously, quite out there at times. We had an umbrella field at some point, it was quite interesting to actually look around and see. We managed to draw some big shots, and we always felt whenever the batsmen felt that was their only way to go, we were going to create opportunities. It’s been a fun game to captain."

He credited Root for coming up with the short ball tactic at the start of Pakistan’s second innings that earned two wickets and praised Ollie Robinson for his fitness. He told Robinson to sharpen up in the summer and he listened.

England's Ollie Robinson (C) celebrates teammate after taking the wicket of Pakistan's Salman Ali Agha (not pictured) during the fifth and final day of the first cricket Test match between Pakistan and England at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, in Rawalpindi on December 5, 2022. - AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images
England's Ollie Robinson (C) celebrates teammate after taking the wicket of Pakistan's Salman Ali Agha (not pictured) during the fifth and final day of the first cricket Test match between Pakistan and England at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, in Rawalpindi on December 5, 2022. - AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images

His declaration paid off and Stokes will do it again as he continues to insist his team want to shake up Test cricket.

"I think in particular, I hope it might change the way that cricket is played in the subcontinent," he said. "We're going to play to win every game out here and if it comes again we find ourselves in the same position in game two, we'll be doing exactly the same kind of thing.

"It's not always going to work but if you're brave enough and willing enough to go out and play in that way, if you lose a game, it's going to be entertaining. That's personally how I think Test cricket should be played. Always looking at the entertainment side of the sport because Test cricket is something that needs to be looked after. We don't want Test cricket to fall off the face of the planet. It needs to stay around and we'll do everything we possibly can as a team to keep it alive."

England’s five best Test wins abroad

By Scyld Berry

5. Sydney 1954-5: Eng win by 38 runs

It was some comeback. England had won only two Tests against Australia since the Second World War, and now they were 1-0 down after losing the first Test in Brisbane, and losing by an innings and 154 runs was more than a thrashing. The key was that England had a x-factor fast bowler, the Mark Wood of his day, whereas they won in Rawalpindi without any outright pace.

Frank Tyson had been hit on his unhelmeted head by his opposite number Ray Lindwall, and had been labouring off a long run-up, which he then cut down. Australia needed only 223 to win whereupon Tyson cut them down with yorkers as much as bouncers.

Ambulance officers helping England cricketer Frank Tyson leave the field after being struck in the head by a ball from Australian fast bowler Ray Lindwall during the second test match in Sydney, 28th December 1954 - Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Ambulance officers helping England cricketer Frank Tyson leave the field after being struck in the head by a ball from Australian fast bowler Ray Lindwall during the second test match in Sydney, 28th December 1954 - Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The explosive result: 10 wickets for 130, only the fourth ever 10-wicket match haul by an England pace bowler in Australia. Len Hutton now had firepower to more than match that of Lindwall and Keith Miller, and went to retain the Ashes by three Tests to one.

4. Sydney 1894-5: Eng win by six wickets

Queen Victoria asked to be kept informed of this series-decider by means of the new telegraph via Adelaide and Darwin to London. It was 2-2 after the first four Tests – and England needed 298 to win the series. The situation prompted the most amazing response from Jack Brown of Yorkshire, the Harry Brook of his day, a dasher.

Brown came in at 28 for two, and hit what is still the fastest Test 50 ever in terms of time, 28 minutes (number of balls unknown). He raced on to his century in 95 minutes, and when he was dismissed for 140 England were all but home. Poor Brown had a weak heart, and though the royal surgeon was sent to help, he died aged 35. But the Ashes were alive, for ever more.

3. Adelaide 2010-11: Eng win by an inns and 71 runs

This was the complete England victory in Australia, from the moment Jonathan Trott brought off a direct-hit run out. If it does not claim first place, it is because England went into the game on a psychological par with Australia after batting out the first Test for a draw in Brisbane with 517 for one declared. Alastair Cook carried on from his double-hundred with 148, and produced a match-winning stand with his favourite partner or, rather, the one to whom he was most suited in a complementing sort of way.

 Kevin Pietersen of England celebrates after reaching his double century during day three of the Second Ashes Test match between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval on December 5, 2010 in Adelaide, Australia - Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Kevin Pietersen of England celebrates after reaching his double century during day three of the Second Ashes Test match between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval on December 5, 2010 in Adelaide, Australia - Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Kevin Pietersen belted his 227 so quickly that England scored at more than four runs per over, an astounding rate for that period, and declared at 620 for five off 152 overs – a declaration which was as nicely judged as Stokes’s. Backing up the seamers, Graeme Swann produced a rare example of match-winning English spin in Australia, taking five wickets for 91, and England won a few minutes before a thunderstorm flooded the ground. England 1-0 up, with three to go, and eventually 3-1 winners.

2. Rawalpindi 2022-3: Eng win by 74 runs... and about five minutes

Only the fact that Pakistan had an ordinary bowling unit, especially when Haris Rauf was injured, and were naively captained by Babar Azam (a total contrast with his counterpart Ben Stokes), prevents this being rated number one. Everything else was set against England: the short hours of daylight, the lack of any warm-up game in Pakistan, the virus that hit most of the squad on the eve of the Test, the illness of their first-choice wicketkeeper, and one of the all-time “flatties” – a pitch that saw more runs scored on it than in any Test ever in Pakistan.

England gave themselves time, however, by becoming the first side to thrash 500 on day one. It was a magnificent charge, the first time a Test side had scored faster than a run a ball in both innings, and led by the side’s youngsters, particularly Zak Crawley and Harry Brook, who was bolder than brass. Stokes seized the moment to declare when England were psychologically on top, instead of delaying in order to be safe, and gave his bowlers four sessions. The reverse swing of James Anderson, Ollie Robinson and Stokes himself propelled England over the line.

1. Mumbai 2012-3: Eng win by 10 wickets

Monty Panesar of England bowls during day two of the tour match between Mumbai A and England at The Dr D.Y. Palit Sports Stadium on November 4, 2012 in Mumbai, Indi - Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Monty Panesar of England bowls during day two of the tour match between Mumbai A and England at The Dr D.Y. Palit Sports Stadium on November 4, 2012 in Mumbai, Indi - Gareth Copley/Getty Images

This victory still has to rank as the supreme achievement for two reasons. One is that England had been wiped out in the first Test, losing by nine wickets. The second reason is that India had bowlers who were vastly superior to the fledgling attack which Pakistan fielded in Rawalpindi: India had Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha to bowl their spinners on a raging turner, and Zaheer Khan.

Yet Alastair Cook and Pietersen combined in what still has to be rated the finest England partnership in Asia, Cook scoring a slow but certain 122 and Pietersen 186 in the most dazzling exhibition of footwork and strokeplay. Then, for once, England’s spinners out-bowled India’s: Monty Panesar took 11 wickets, including one of the all-time pearlers to remove Sachin Tendulkar, and Graeme Swann eight. India were shocked at being outplayed in their own backyard, and England won 2-1. It was similar complacency when England won in Chennai in early 2022, on the back of Joe Root's superb double-century, a win which would rank sixth in this list.