Australia feel like Ashes were ‘stolen’ at Headingley, says Justin Langer

Justin Langer says Australia feel like the Ashes were “stolen” from them at Headingley as Ben Stokes’ stunning century kept the series alive.

England were nine wickets down with 73 runs required in the third Test but Stokes then hit a match-winning 135 as Ashes holders Australia spurned numerous chances to move into an unassailable 2-0 lead.

Head coach Langer says his side will use that as motivation at Old Trafford this week as they look to become the first Australia team to leave England with the urn since the Steve Waugh-captained squad in 2001.

“We felt a bit like we got the Ashes stolen the other day. They won that Test match, so we felt a bit like it’d been stolen from us,” said the 48-year-old.

“Now we’ve got to work out what we’re going to do and use that as fire. We’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves and let it slip.

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“Think about Muhammad Ali getting his bike stolen [as a child]. That was the fire he needed to become the greatest boxer of all time.

“The great players and great teams – in business and life – they have their ups and downs but they always fight back from it.

“You wouldn’t see one champion player, one champion team, one champion business that hasn’t done that.”

Steve Smith is poised to return for Australia after sitting out the Headingley Test with a concussion that he suffered when he was struck on the neck by a Jofra Archer delivery in the previous game at Lord’s.

Langer has backed the batsman – who has scored 144, 142 and 92 in his three innings in the series to date – to overcome any “little demons” that may be in his head.

“When you get hit, it’s always a little voice on your shoulder,” added Langer ahead of the fourth Test, which is live on Sky Sports The Ashes from 10am on Wednesday.

“You’ve got to have a good strategy and he works the game out better than anyone I’ve ever met in my life. He would’ve thought long and hard about it. If anyone’s going to get over any little demons it’ll be Steven.

“He’s faced lots of short-pitched bowling in his life. A lot of it will be how he organises his mind and, as I’ve said, he organises it better than anybody.

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