Kevin Pietersen thinks that Jos Buttler, not Ben Stokes, should captain England if Joe Root is forced to miss any part of the upcoming three-match Test series against West Indies.
The possibility of Root being unavailable has become more immediate in recent weeks, with his wife due to give birth to the couple’s second child around the time the first Test is due to start, and the ability to leave and re-enter the team environment limited by the bio-secure environment that must be created to guard against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Stokes is England’s regular Test vice-captain, but has never captained his country in any format. Buttler has spent time as England’s Test vice-captain, and has been their regular limited-overs deputy. He has stepped in for Eoin Morgan on occasion, and is tipped to take over from the man rated by most as England’s greatest-ever white-ball skipper when he does step down.
However, Buttler has struggled for form in Test cricket in recent times. Since the start of the 2019 summer he has averaged a mere 21.31, and had a high score of 43 in nine innings over the winter. Stokes meanwhile is not only sure of his place, but is arguably England’s most important player, scoring two hundreds in last summer’s Ashes series, including one of the greatest Test innings of all time at Headingley.
For Pietersen, himself a former England captain, that is exactly why Stokes shouldn’t be put in charge, even temporarily.
“Do I want to see Ben Stokes change from who he is and the current player he is? Probably not, Jos Buttler would be my guy,” Pietersen told talkSPORT. “The entertainers and the guys that have to carry the mantle in the team sometimes aren’t the best captains and sometimes struggle with the extra added pressure.
“As a player you are looked at completely differently until that phone call comes and you are announced as the Test captain. Responsibilities change, communication changes, the way in which you carry yourself in the dressing room changes.
“I struggled with it, I absolutely hated it and I was rubbish. You have to change and I couldn’t command the respect of the dressing room, you say something and it is frowned upon, it is a completely different story.”