Stokes inspired by Cook and Root ahead of first taste of captaincy
Ben Stokes thinks his experience under the captaincy of Alastair Cook and Joe Root will help him succeed in the role himself.
Vice-captain Stokes is set to step up in Root’s absence for England‘s first Test against the West Indies next week.
The all-rounder became a focal point for England in 2019 thanks to his heroics in the Ashes and the Cricket World Cup, and will now take on a role of further responsibility while Root awaits the birth of his second child.
In doing so, Stokes will become the first all-rounder to captain England in a Test since Andrew Flintoff.
And even though he has never captained a professional game, the 29-year-old believes he has learned enough from Root, as well as his predecessor Cook, to help him adapt to whatever challenges come his way in the first Test.
“Look, I’ve been a senior player in the team sort of since 2016, under Cookie and obviously since Joe’s been in charge,” Stokes said.
“So, being able to learn from Alistair Cook and being able to learn from Rooty, in terms of different situations throughout the game, I think has rubbed off on me and will put me in good stead for all the different situations that a test match can throw at you.
“But at the same time, we’ve got some really, really experienced guys out on the field who I can use. We’ve got Jimmy [Anderson] and Broady [Stuart Broad] who have just got ample Test matches and wickets between them.
“There’s so many people that you can throw ideas off.”
And Stokes has vowed to use the experience of the senior players around him to bring in other ideas to his approach.
“I would like to think that I would be quite an open captain and wouldn’t want to just go ‘my way is the only way’,” he added. “Because necessarily I don’t think that is the best way to operate.
“There’s 11 guys out on the field so why not get 10 other opinions on something that you’re thinking about?”
When it comes to who those 10 other opinions will come from, Stokes added that he wants to have a “decent” say on selection, alongside England selector Ed Smith.
“I’m just going to chuck it onto Ed Smith here, sorry,” laughed Stokes. “He’s the person who makes the decisions in terms of cutting it down.
“But when crunch comes to crunch, then I think I’d quite like to have a decent say in terms of the final 11 that will be walking out onto the field.
“We’ll just have to wait and see what happens around that when we get closer to the game.”
Asked how much players would have to show form in training and an intra-squad, three-day warm-up game, given that England have not played since February, Stokes admitted that there is high competition for places.
Those selection dilemmas remind Stokes of the build up to last year’s World Cup, with several players knocking at the door for their chance.
“Yeah, I think so, and especially in a situation where we’ve got everyone fit,” he said.
“I feel like we’re in a situation with the one-day team before the World Cup where you could pick 16 guys but you can only pick 11 – which is a great place to be in.
“So, I think a lot of what guys do in training and what guys do in this three-day warm up will have an influence in terms of that first 11 that walk out onto the field here in that Test match.
“But I’ve got to say that everybody so far in training, it’s just so hard to see who’s ahead of who, because obviously everyone’s been working really, really hard in their individual training and at their counties, which was shown at the standard of training here.
“So, yeah, first game in charge, everyone’s fit, can only pick 11, so I might not have as many friends after this Test match!”
The first Test between England and West Indies will begin on 8th July behind closed doors at the Ageas Bowl.
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