Ahead of their three-match Test series against West Indies, one of the host’s main concerns, from a cricketing point of view, is who will lead England in the likely event that Joe Root is forced to miss some of the action.
Root’s second child is due to be born around the time the first Test starts, on July 8, and with restrictions on entering and leaving the bio-secure Ageas Bowl set to be in place, the captain’s intention to be present at the birth may well prevent him from playing.
In that event, Ben Stokes, currently England’s vice-captain, will almost certainly lead the side. When Root’s captaincy was more precarious, especially after defeat in the first Test against South Africa last winter, Stokes was floated as a potential replacement, but many felt that giving the all-rounder the leadership role would overburden him, with Stokes already being perhaps England’s most important player.
However, speaking on the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, Wisden Cricket Monthly editor-in-chief Phil Walker said he had very few concerns about Stokes’ ability to balance all the roles he will be asked to fulfil and praised his ability read a game.
“Stokes as captain – it’s been inevitable for a little while now,” he said. “I personally think he’d make a very good captain, and I don’t actually have the concerns that it will eat too much into his personality and his otherness as a cricketer. I think his understanding of a game of cricket is second to none; I think his temperament speaks for itself, and the end results are there.
“There might be a challenge getting the ball out of his hands if England are behind the eight-ball, but that’d be a challenge whether he’s captain or vice-captain. That would be the only concern I would have. Obviously [the England players] will follow him, and I think tactically, strategically… you can see the way he plots an innings in whatever form of cricket that he plays, he understands the rhythm of a game of cricket superbly. So I don’t have any concerns there personally.”
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