Ben Stokes named England Test captain after Joe Root resignation: ‘I am honoured to be given this chance’

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Ben Stokes named England Test captain after Joe Root resignation: ‘I am honoured to be given this chance’
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Ben Stokes has been confirmed as England’s new Test captain by the recently-installed managing director Rob Key.

Key declared that he had “no hesitation” in making Stokes skipper, in what is his first major decision since taking the job 11 days ago.

Stokes is set to lead the team out against New Zealand, the country of his birth, at Lord’s on June 2, presuming his return to action for Durham next month runs smoothly.

Key, the former Kent captain and England batter, said Stokes “epitomises the mentality and approach we want to take this team forward into the next era of red-ball cricket”.

Stokes, who has played 79 Tests since his debut in 2013, takes over from good friend Joe Root, to whom he paid tribute. Root stepped down on Good Friday after five years in the role.

England have won just one of their last 17 Tests, a run which includes a winless winter in which they lost the Ashes series 4-0 and then were thrashed by West Indies in a decider in Grenada.

Considerable change to the team is now likely, starting with the returns of James Anderson and Stuart Broad to the squad. Both Key and Stokes want the veterans back in contention after they were left out for the tour of the Caribbean.

“I am honoured to be given the chance to lead the England Test team,” said Stokes. “This is a real privilege, and I’m excited about getting started this summer.

“I want to thank Joe for everything he has done for English cricket and for always being a great ambassador for the sport all across the world. He has been a massive part of my development as a leader in the dressing room, and he will continue to be a key ally for me in this role.”

Stokes succeeds close friend Joe Root, who recently resigned as captain after five years (Getty Images)
Stokes succeeds close friend Joe Root, who recently resigned as captain after five years (Getty Images)

Stokes was Root’s vice-captain but, at this stage, does not have an official sidekick of his own. That is in part down to a lack of options; very few players are certain of their places in the XI.

Stokes has captained England before. In 2020, he stepped in while Root was on paternity leave for a Test against West Indies (which England lost), then last summer was parachuted in to lead the ODI team against Pakistan. Team-mates praised his inspirational leadership as a second-string England side won 3-0.

His appointment is a risk; as a bowler, Stokes puts his body on the line and risks injury, and last year he spent time out of the game to manage his mental health.

He has also had other off-field issues, most notably in 2017 when he was charged but cleared of affray after an incident outside a Bristol nightclub. That led to him missing another 4-0 Ashes defeat.

Key’s to-do list remains very long ahead of a summer in which England face New Zealand, India and South Africa.

New managing director Rob Key still has a number of important appointments to make (PA)
New managing director Rob Key still has a number of important appointments to make (PA)

He has advertised for two head coaches, one for Tests and another for white-ball cricket. Paul Collingwood is the favourite – but no certainty – for the limited-overs gig, while Simon Katich, Graham Ford, Jason Gillespie and Gary Kirsten are in the mix for the Test role. The application deadline is May 6, with interviews taking place the following week.

The appointment of Stokes fills one of many posts vacated since the Ashes defeat. As well as coaches, Key is looking to appoint a national selector. The ECB is preparing for the departure of their chief executive, Tom Harrison, and is already looking for a new chair, with Ron Kalifa the favourite, but Martin Darlow now in post on an interim basis.

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