Moeen Ali reckons “legend in the making” Ben Stokes is England’s greatest ever all-rounder.

Ali has ranked the Cumbrian above Sir Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff after Stokes’ third Test heroics against Australia at Headingley. Cockermouth man Stokes’ unbeaten 135 drove the hosts to a remarkable one-wicket success as England posted their highest-ever Test match run-chase to deny Australia and level the Ashes series with two games to play.

“He is the best cricketer I have played alongside and while it might be a massive shout - and admittedly he is a very close friend - I would argue he is now the greatest all-rounder this country has ever produced,” 32-year-old Ali said.

"To deliver an innings like the one he played at Headingley, just six weeks after winning us the World Cup final and with the Ashes on the line, is what seals it for me.

"I know there are past greats like Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff, but we’re watching another legend in the making here."

"What we witnessed on Sunday wasn’t a fluke. Seriously, you will not find a cricketer more dedicated to self-improvement," Ali told The Guardian. "He trains at 100mph and is just unrelenting with it. As a batsman, he has become excellent at judging scenarios. He now has the all-round game and technique to adapt.

"Refusing to celebrate personal milestones sums him up, too. It’s team first, every time."

Botham, meanwhile, has described Stokes as a “world box-office attraction” and says his life will never be the same again.

The 63-year-old said: “He is the Special One, and I intend to call him that for the rest of his career.

"He wants to be the best. He wants to be in the oven. He wants to be in the hottest place in the kitchen, and he wants to take them all on. That is his character.”

Botham produced a similarly superb batting performance to famously help England beat Australia at Headingley in 1981.

After England had been forced to follow-on and then reduced to 135-7 in their second innings, Botham scored an unbeaten 149 to help his side total 356. That set Australia 130 for victory but they were dismissed for 111 as Bob Willis claimed figures of 8-43.

“It changed my life overnight. I think Ben’s life will be the same. He will have no private life. He has to get used to that, and so do his family,” Botham told The Daily Telegraph. “He is public property, but it’s a great place to be in for the long term.

"It will set him up for life. He will reap the rewards which he richly deserves, and he is now a world, box-office attraction.”