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 Ben Stokes: England name all-rounder as new Test captain to succeed Joe Root

Ben Stokes: England name all-rounder as new Test captain to succeed Joe Root

Ben Stokes has been named England Test captain, taking over from Joe Root.

All-rounder Stokes, 30, has scored 5,061 runs and taken 174 wickets in 79 Tests and had been vice-captain across two spells since 2017.

Batter Root, 31, stepped down after five years in charge earlier this month, having led England in a record 64 Tests.

“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.”

Stokes’ first Test as permanent England captain will be against world champions New Zealand at Lord’s on 2 June.

He previously captained England in the first Test defeat by West Indies in 2020 when Root missed the match to attend the birth of his second child.

“I want to thank Joe Root for everything he has done for English cricket and for always being a great ambassador for the sport all across the world,” added Stokes.

“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 was appointed captain by new managing director of England men’s cricket Rob Key, in his first major act in the role.

“I had no hesitation in offering the role of Test captain to Ben,” said Key.

“He epitomises the mentality and approach we want to take this team forward into the next era of red-ball cricket.

“I am delighted that he has accepted, and he is ready for the added responsibility and the honour. He thoroughly deserves the opportunity.”

Stokes also led the one-day international side to a 3-0 series victory over Pakistan last summer after a Covid outbreak forced England to name an entirely new squad.

He subsequently took a break from cricket in July for his mental wellbeing and to allow a finger injury to heal but returned to the England squad for the Ashes series.

Following England’s tour of the West Indies in March, Stokes has been suffering pain in his left knee, but is hoping to make a return for county side Durham in May.

Former Kent and England batter Key took over as managing director earlier this month, replacing Andrew Strauss, who had stepped in on an interim basis following the sacking of Ashley Giles in February.

England are also in the process of filling their head coach vacancy after Chris Silverwood was sacked in February following the 4-0 Ashes defeat by Australia in the winter.

England plan to appoint separate coaches for the Test and white-ball sides, a change to the recent set-up.

Root stepped down as captain, citing the “toll” the job had on him, after a 1-0 series defeat by West Indies.

England are winless in nine Tests and have only one won of their past 17 matches.

After three Tests against New Zealand in June, England face India in the rescheduled fifth Test in July, before three Tests against South Africa in August and September.

Stokes’ journey to Test captain

Stokes made his Test debut during the 2013-14 Ashes in Australia, with the left-handed batter hitting his maiden Test century in his second match in Perth.

He missed the 2014 World Twenty20 with a broken hand sustained when punching a locker on a tour of the West Indies and subsequently drifted in and out of the England set-up, missing the 2015 50-over World Cup.

He returned to hit the fastest Test century seen at Lord’s – 101 from 85 balls against New Zealand in 2015 – before smashing England’s fastest Test double century against South Africa in January 2016.

The all-rounder was appointed Test vice-captain when Root took over the captaincy in 2017.

Stokes was arrested after a fight outside a Bristol nightclub in 2017, which led to him missing the 2017-18 Ashes in Australia and being stripped of the vice-captaincy. He was later found not guilty of affray and was reinstated as vice-captain in July 2019.

In the summer of 2019 Stokes played two incredible innings, first rescuing England in the final of their Men’s World Cup win and then producing his astonishing 135 not out against Australia in the Ashes at Headingley. The performances saw him named BBC Sports Personality of the Year that December.

In 2020 Stokes missed England matches for compassionate leave and later that year his father Ged died after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

Stokes returned for England in the winter of 2020-21 but, after breaking his finger at the Indian Premier League and rushing back to captain a depleted side against Pakistan, he missed the entire series against India last summer after announcing an indefinite break.

After returning he had a difficult Ashes series, hitting two fifties and taking four wickets, but rediscovered his form with a brilliant century against West Indies in March.

Stokes captaincy ‘really exciting’ – Broad

England pace bowler Stuart Board told BBC Sport that Stokes will be an “exceptional” captain.

“He is someone you naturally follow anyway, he’s a leader in the changing room,” Broad said.

“If he takes the way he plays and trains, his positive attitude, into his captaincy that’ll be a really exciting thing for English cricket.

“He’s got a really good tactical brain, so I’m sure he’ll be exceptional.”

England’s previous talismanic all-rounders, Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff, both had tough spells as Test captain, with Botham failing to win any of his 12 Tests in charge, while Flintoff’s side were thrashed 5-0 in the 2006-07 Ashes in Australia.

Broad said it was “really important” not to bracket Stokes with Botham and Flintoff.

“Stokes has dealt with so much in his life and still been able to perform to the highest standards,” he said.

“He won’t let the added pressure or the added responsibility of being a captain affect the way he trains and affect the way he plays.”

‘English cricket needs Stokes as captain’ – analysis

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew

We expected this – there were very few candidates around the English game to take on this massive role.

A lot of people will be concerned about the possible impact on Stokes’ game – he’s such a star, he’s the man capable of turning any game around.

But Stokes was vice-captain and so this seems to be a perfectly natural progression.

English cricket needs Stokes as captain at the moment, it needs somebody to take the sport by the scruff of the neck and drag it in the right direction.

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