England all-rounder Ben Stokes is all set to lead the team for the first time in his career when the three-match Test series against West Indies begins on July 8 at the Old Trafford ground in Manchester. While he admits that he is yet to dive into the whole idea of captaincy, he does consider it a huge honour.
Captain Joe Root will miss the opener against Jason Holder’s men as he and his wife are expecting their second child. In his place, vice-captain Stokes will be taking over the responsibility for the opener, after being backed by Root and few other veterans, although official confirmation from ECB is yet to be made.
“I haven’t really dived into it yet,” Stokes said during a virtual press conference. “For me, at the moment it’s all about preparing and getting to the level I want to be two to three days out before the first Test match starts. But I know, because we’ve got such a big squad at the moment that there’s so many players that you’ve got to keep your eye on. Because we’re in split training at the moment it’s tough to be able to see everybody.
“I haven’t fully dived into the whole idea yet, on purpose. I’m just waiting for the right time to do that. It’s still a long way off, so when it gets a little bit closer and it’s 100 per cent confirmed I will be in charge, I’m sure the mindset will change.”
Stokes, England’s World Cup 2019 hero, reckons that over the course of his Test career, he has learned a lot from Root and former skipper Alastair Cook and is hence ready to accept the role.
“I’ve been a senior player in the team since 2016, under Cooky [Alastair Cook], and obviously since Joe [Root]’s been in charge. So being able to learn from Alastair 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 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 and Broady who have got ample Test matches and wickets between them, and there’s so many people you can throw ideas off. I like to think I’ll be quite an open captain and wouldn’t think that my way is the only way. 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 you’re thinking about.”
Meanwhile, Stokes is excited about cricket resuming after a long break of three months owing to thye coronavirus pandemic and is impressed with the health protocols in action surrounding the Test series.
“When it got confirmed that they were coming out, it was very exciting to think about that we were going to be back on the field playing some competitive cricket again. So a huge credit to the West Indies players and the cricket board for pushing the series through. Because everyone wanted to see cricket back on the field. But I think it’s also been done in the right way, all the safety checks have been made. We know that we’re going to go out on the field in a very safe environment. Whilst we’ve been down in Hampshire for the first week everybody’s really abided by the rules we’ve been told to stick to.”
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