Stokes vows to attack if England captaincy comes his way

Cricket

Stokes vows to attack if England captaincy comes his way

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

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LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Ben Stokes promised to remain true to his attacking instincts if he replaces Joe Root as England skipper against the West Indies, even though he has not captained a side since he was a teenager.

Vice-Captain Stokes could find himself leading out the side for next week's first Test at Southampton — or later in the three-match series — should Root be absent attending the birth of his second child.

But the powerful all-rounder said he would accept the “huge honour” if it came his way.

“Even if it's only the once you can still say 'Yeah, I've captained England,' “ he said on a conference call yesterday.

Stokes was restored to his position as Test vice-captain in July 2019, nearly a year after being found not guilty of affray following an incident outside a nightclub.

But he said captaincy had never been on his list of priorities.

Asked when he had last led a side, the 29-year-old replied: “I think it might have been an academy game against Scotland or something. And I don't remember much because I was about 16.

“I've never set a goal to want to be a captain.

“Alastair Cook was always destined to be England captain after Andrew Strauss. Joe Root was always destined to be captain after Alastair Cook.

“If I'm being honest, I'm not one of those that people would necessarily associate [as] the next England captain.”

Not going to change

With Stokes already England's star all-rounder, pundits including former Captain Kevin Pietersen have said he does not need the extra responsibility of captaincy as well.

But Stokes, who jokingly said he would have “nine slips and a gully” as captain, insisted leadership would not dull his attacking approach.

Last year he played a key role in England's World Cup triumph before scoring a stunning century at Headingley to win an astounding Test victory over Australia.

“Even if I am in charge that's not going to change the way that I go about things in terms of how I want to influence the game, which is try to make a positive effect with the ball or bat in my hand,” he said.

One problem for Stokes, as fellow pace-bowling all-rounders Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff discovered when they were England captain, could be deciding on when to bowl himself.

“It depends if it is a flat wicket or not. If it is flat I will throw the ball to Jofra [Archer], Jimmy [Anderson] and Broady [Stuart Broad] and say 'Here you go,' “ he joked.

“I guess I will have to be a bit more mindful if I am the one making that decision.”

England will draw their final XI from a 30-man squad currently training at a biosecure Southampton.

But as for selection, Stokes said he would “chuck it all to Ed Smith”, England's national selector.

England captains, however, traditionally have an influence on the final XI, and Stokes admitted: “I might not have as many friends after this Test match.”

Stokes said England were still holding discussions with the West Indies about how best to show support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, after the tourists said they would wear a BLM symbol on their shirts.

“It would be great to be able to do something as Team England and Team West Indies, showing our support together as two different nations,” he said.


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