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Ben Stokes officially named stand-in England captain for first West Indies Test

Ben Stokes has officially been named England captain for the first Test against the West Indies with Joe Root to leave the camp on Wednesday.

Root will head from the Ageas Bowl to be with his wife Carrie for the birth of their second child, expected at the end of the week, leaving vice-captain Stokes to take charge for the first time.

Root will then go through a seven day isolation period at home after leaving the hospital and will rejoin the squad in Manchester on July 13 ahead of the second Test.

With Stokes' promotion, Jos Buttler has been asked once again to take up the vice-captaincy for the match.

It means Root will also miss the three day intra-squad warm up match that begins tomorrow with Stokes taking charge of one side and Buttler the other as preparations ramp up for the #raisethebat first Test.

Stokes confirmed: “Obviously it’s a huge honour to think about, and something I’m really looking forward to.

“But also at the same time I know I’m only stepping in to take over the reins for the one game because of Joe’s personal situation.”

Stokes confirmed he would be planning on staying true to his positive style as a player now that he is captain, but he would also look for advice and help from the rest of his team-mates, especially his senior players.

None are more experienced than Stuart Broad who has captained England in T20 cricket and James Anderson who was England's vice-captain on the last Ashes tour.

“We've got some really experienced guys out in the field, who I can use,” added Stokes. “We've got Jimmy and Broady, who’ve got ample Test matches and wickets between them and there are so many people that you can throw ideas off.

“I'd like to think that I'll be quite an open captain and wouldn't want to just think that my way is the only way, because I don’t necessarily think that is the best way to operate.”

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Ben Stokes was never Future England Captain material – and yet here he is

Perhaps one of the great wilful misunderstandings in cricket is around the initials FEC.

Those three letters were inscribed on Michael Atherton’s locker during his first year at Lancashire and have since become part of the game’s lexicon. Atherton, with his prolific school and an age group career that saw him lead England’s U19 side at the age of 15, was Patient Zero. The first to be ascribed the “Future England Captain” title.

Except Atherton was not being anointed by his new teammates, rather, he was being ridiculed. This was nothing to do with where he was destined to go but where he had come from: a Cambridge student now in the rough and tumble world of county cricketers who don’t take kindly to smarts, let alone university students. Though he would go on to lead his country at the age of 25, doing so for 54 of his 115 Tests, that wasn’t really the point. He was, to those in that dressing room, a “F***ing Educated C***”.

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It is unclear who repurposed the letters for the less offensive meaning, but that representation of the term has been passed down ever since, even into other sports.

Previous Test skippers Michael Vaughan and Alastair Cook were notable FECs. So was the current one, Joe Root. Rugby union’s Mauro Itoje is often referred to as one, too.

Being young, good at cricket (preferably with a few age-group caps), professional and popular within your circle is the combination to earn it. Talented allrounder Ed Barnard, for instance, is Worcestershire’s resident FEC.

There’s also a crown prince element to it. The one who can do no wrong in the eyes of authority. Always a good fit – “right sort of family”, anyone? – and never, ever in trouble.

It’s probably that last bit there that explains why Ben Stokes was never thought of as an FEC. And it’s nothing to do with Bristol 2017, really. The decree – or lack thereof – came early, even before he was kicked off an England Lions tour aged 21. Stokes certainly had more than enough schoolboy mischief to put people off the scent.

Yet ahead of the first Test of the upcoming bio-secure series against West Indies, Stokes is preparing to lead his country. The incumbent, Root, is preparing to attend the birth of his second child with wife, Carrie. As vice-captain, the Durham allrounder is due to step up into the top job.

“I’ve never set a goal out to want to be a captain,” revealed Stokes. “If you look at people like Alastair Cook – he was always destined to be an 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 people that people would necessarily associate [as] the next England captain. That’s what everyone says.”

That’s certainly what Stokes’ coaches thought, even if they did not articulate it to him directly. Despite being regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the country throughout his teens, his captaincy record amounts to three matches for three Durham Under 17 matches in 2008.

Early on it was clear Stokes did not need the armband to be so pronounced on the field. But also the very nature of age-group cricket; Stokes’ technical and physical development arc was much greater than his peers, meaning he was rarely one of the more experienced players in representative sides.

He made his U15 debut for Cumbria the day after he had turned 14, playing his first U17 game for the minor-county at the age of 15. He was a 17-year old England U19, an 18-year old first-class cricketer and subsequently, at 22, he was playing an Ashes Test in Australia.

It’s telling that, when asked why now, at 29, he would be ready to be a captain, he answers that it is partly down to “getting older”. But while the increased international experience feeds his confidence to lead, all it has done to his teammates is confirm that the kid who did it all is now the man who does it all. And what those two have in common is that players want to align themselves with him.

He has remained a challenger of authority, most notably at the start of the recent series in South Africa when he unloaded on Stuart Broad after the bowler was complaining about the lack of energy in the field. Broad wasn’t wrong – the side were riddled with illness, with Root off the field at the time receiving treatment – but Stokes had no qualms pulling up a more senior player in front of his peers.

Stokes understands this is only a temporary measure. And while he cherishes his vice-captaincy, more so now after it was taken away following the incident in Bristol, the full job does not appeal to him all that much, especially if it means contemplating the decline of his pal, Root.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how Stokes’ week in charge pans out, not least due to how much focus there will be on it after cricket’s long layoff. He says he will try to “set the example in terms of attitude and commitment” and try to make positive impact whether bowling or batting – again, more of the same. “No matter what I do, it will always be the positive route.” Of course, that’s a bit like wondering if a dog will bark.

In many ways, that’s the case for why Stokes should not be made captain long-term – as the Past England Captains have shown, it’s a role that often breeds negativity. And among all the arguments against Stokes being a prospective candidate for the role, this is perhaps the most important. Like it or not, it can fundamentally change even the most dashing types.

But for his own sake, this is an honour that should be cherished by all those within English cricket. A player who was many things to many teams was never expected to do the job that matters most. And yet here he is.

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Cricket: Three-game series between Australia and Zimbabwe cancelled because of COVID-19

Cricket Australia will try to reschedule its one-day series with Zimbabwe after the three-match tour scheduled for August was postponed by mutual agreement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three matches were set to be played in Australia‘s far north, including a first-ever international match in Townsville. The other two games were likely to be played in Darwin.

“While we are disappointed to postpone the series, CA and Zimbabwe Cricket agree that in the best interest of players, match officials, volunteers as well as our fans, that this is the most practical and sensible decision,” CA interim chief executive Nick Hockley said in a statement.

“We are committed to working with Zimbabwe Cricket on alternative dates to reschedule.”

A combination of factors including the short length of the series and the significant biosecurity measures that would need to be implemented contributed to the decision to postpone.

Matthew Hayden on his way to a world record 380 runs against Zimbabwe.Source:News Limited

Australia still requires a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for international arrivals.

There were also concerns for the health and safety of players, match officials and volunteers, with the pandemic yet to be fully contained in Australia.

Australia hasn’t played since the abandoned one-day series against New Zealand in March and already cancelled a Test tour of Bangladesh. But there are still hopes of a white-ball tour of England possibly in September.

The International Cricket Council is yet to make a call on whether the T20 World Cup, scheduled for October and November in Australia, will go ahead. But it’s increasingly unlikely.

It’s understood, however, India’s Test tour of Australia will go ahead this summer.

Zimbabwe hasn’t visited Australia since the 2003-04 summer when Matthew Hayden scored a then world-record score of 380 in Perth.

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Cricket: Aussie Ashes heartbreaker Ben Stokes set to captain England in Test against West Indies

After working hard to restore his reputation following a late-night fight in Bristol, Ben Stokes broke Australian hearts at Headingley during last year’s Ashes.

Now the redemption of the superstar England all-rounder is complete with Stokes set to captain his country in the first Test against West Indies on July 8.

Joe Root is likely to miss the game to attend the birth of his second child giving Stokes, the one-time bad boy of world cricket turned World Cup and Ashes hero, his chance to be captain.

“Getting the opportunity to captain England is a huge honour. Even if it’s only the once, you can say you captained England,” Stokes said overnight.

“So it’s something that I’m looking forward to if the opportunity presents itself. But also I know I’m only stepping in to take over the reins because of Joe’s personal situation.”

Stokes lost the England vice-captaincy and had to flee to New Zealand, where he was born, in 2018 after the late-night fight in Bristol resulted in charges of affray.

He was eventually found not guilty but not before the case made headlines around the world.

Ben Stokes reacts after an attempted run out results in four overthrows during the 2019 World Cup final. Picture: Michael Steele/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Stokes has turned his life and career around since the incident, helping England win the World Cup last year with his super-over heroics.

Then at Headingley he single-handedly won the third Ashes Test with a stunning final day hundred that rescued England from 9-286, smashing 11 fours and eight sixes in a 76-run final wicket stand with Jack Leach.

A victory there would have seen Australia retain the Ashes, which the tourists did in the next Test at Manchester.

Stokes said he had worked hard to redeem himself and, while he never aspired to captain England, said he would lead the way with “commitment and attitude”.

“After that happened (in Bristol) it was, ‘Right, what am I going to do from this point forward? How am I going to carry and conduct myself?’ I’m quite proud to say I’m in this situation through hard work and determination. It’s been no fluke,” he said.

“I don’t normally like to speak about myself in this way but, looking back, I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do since that incident happened. It’s been through complete dedication and hard work towards the job I do.

“I never set a goal to want to be a captain. I always try to set the example in terms of commitment and attitude. When it comes down to what to do in a situation it will always be a positive route.”

Originally published asBen Stokes: From bad boy to England captain

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Robin Goodfellow's racing tips: Best bets for Tuesday, June 30

Robin Goodfellow’s racing tips: Best bets for Tuesday, June 30

Sportsmail’s racing expert Robin Goodfellow dishes out his tips for Tuesday’s meetings at Doncaster, Musselburgh, Leicester and Chepstow. 

Sportsmail’s racing expert Robin Goodfellow dishes out his tips for Tuesday’s meetings

ROBIN GOODFELLOW

12.30 Rolfe Rembrandt (nb)

1.00 Anghaam 

1.30 Mr Wagyu

2.00 Wentworth Falls

2.30 Some Nightmare

3.00 Fantasy Bellever

3.30 Matthew Flinders

4.00 Semser

4.30 Squelch

5.05 Revolver 

GIMCRACK 

12.30 Yorkshire Pirlo

1.00 Quarantinl 

1.30 Double Up

2.00 Wentworth Falls (nap)

2.30 Momentum

3.00 Intercessor 

3.30 First Winter 

4.00 State Crown (nb)

4.30 Echo

5.05 Bouncing Bobby

 MUSSELBURGH

ROBIN GOODFELLOW

12.45 Chase The Dollar

1.15 Ghathanfar 

1.45 Joshua R

2.15 bal Mal

2.45 Desert Ace

3.15 Vampish

3.45 Little Ted

4.15 Tarnhelm 

GIMCRACK

12.45 Ventura Mutiny

1.15 How Bizarre

1.45 Annangel

2.15 Bal Mal

2.45 Desert Ace

3.15 Lady Scatterley

3.45 Moonlighting

4.15 Muatadel 

LEICESTER

ROBIN GOODFELLOW

4.40 Hot Hot Hot

5.15 Teepee Time 

5.45 Tawaafoq

6.15 Deputy Star 

6.45 Compass Point

7.15 Rare Glam

7.45 Petit Bay

8.15 Becky Sharp

8.45 Pleasure Garden 

GIMCRACK 

4.40 Comeatchoo

5.15 Wiff Waff

5.45 Kraka

6.15 Outer Space

6.45 Havana Sunset

7.15 Fast track Flyer

7.45 Queen Mia

8.15 Becky Sharp

8.45 Pearl Beach

CHEPSTOW  

ROBIN GOODFELLOW

5.00 Shine That Light

5.30 Lorna Cole

6.00 Solent Gateway

6.30 PORT NOIR (nap)

7.00 Cider Apple 

7.30 Paws For Thought

8.00 Lily Lake

8.30 Hammy End

9.00 Gold Arch

GIMCRACK 

5.00 Shine That Light

5.30 Cool Strutter

6.00 Bodak Yellow

6.30 Port Noir

7.00 Henrik

7.30 Paws For Thought

8.00 Evening Spirit

8.30 Cafe Sydney

9.00 Gold Arch




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England v West Indies: Ben Stokes says captaincy will not change his style

Ben Stokes says he will not alter his style of play if he is confirmed as England captain for the first Test against West Indies.

Skipper Joe Root is set to miss the match, which begins on 8 July, for the birth of his second child, with vice-captain Stokes likely to step in.

“I hope that I always try to set the example in terms of attitude and commitment,” said 29-year-old Stokes.

“If I am in charge that’s not going to change the way that I go about things.”

Stokes has enjoyed a stellar 12-month period in which he led England to victory in the World Cup final, then played one of the all-time great Test innings in the remarkable one-wicket Ashes win over Australia at Headingley.

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The Durham all-rounder regularly produces his best performances in pressure moments, and did so again by bowling England to victory on the final day of the second Test against South Africa in Cape Town in January.

“In terms of how I want to influence the game, I try to have a positive effect with the ball or bat in my hand,” he said.

“No matter what I do in terms of choosing what to do in a situation, it will always be the positive route.”

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Stokes was named vice-captain when Root took over as captain in 2017, but was stripped of the role following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September that year that led to him being charged with affray.

He asked to be reinstated at the end of 2019 and is now set to become the 81st man to lead England in a Test, and the first all-rounder since Andrew Flintoff.

“Getting the opportunity to captain England is a huge honour – even if it’s only the once you can still say ‘yeah, I’ve captained England’,” said Stokes, 29.

“It’s a huge honour to think about, and something I’m really looking forward to if the opportunity presents itself, but also at the same time I know I’m only stepping in for the one game because of Joe’s personal situation.”

Stokes, who has no captaincy experience in the professional game, and said the last time he led a side was during his time with the Durham academy.

“We’ve got some really experienced guys out in the field who I can use,” he said.

“I’d like to think that I’ll be quite an open captain and wouldn’t want to just think that my way is the only way.

“There are 11 guys out on the field, so why not get 10 other opinions on something that you’re thinking about?”

The opening day of West Indies’ four-day intra-squad practice match – their last game before the Test series – was washed out at Old Trafford.

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Leicester horse racing fixture goes ahead amid local lockdown threat

Leicester's horse racing meeting looks set to go ahead tomorrow, amid plans for a localised coronavirus lockdown.

The nine-race card from 4.40pm has 106 runners, including Petit Bay trained by retired eventing star Sir Mark Todd.

Tuesday's fixture is being held as mayor Sir Peter Soulsby and Health Secretary Matt Hancock discuss the city's reaction to Covid-19.

Leicester recorded 866 new cases in the two weeks up to June 23 – nearly a third of its total throughout the pandemic.

The city council revealed that the north and east areas are worst affected, with North Evington having the highest number of cases, 118.

Racecourse clerk Jimmy Stevenson said: "We are right on the outskirts here, several miles away.

"I have seen on the news the talk about the lockdown and that's all I know, no-one has contacted us.

"The meeting is due to go ahead as normal. It is our third fixture of the season and we are just getting into the groove of racing behind closed doors."

Coronavirus restrictions are due to be eased in England from Saturday, with pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and hotels given the green light to reopen.

However, there has been talk of them remaining closed for two more weeks in Leicester while the number of new cases remain high.

Four mobile testing units have been deployed to the city.

Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe has said she supports a localised lockdown.

“Schools have had to close in Leicester East because of coronavirus, a supermarket had to close," she told Leicestershire Live.

“We know the problem is in Leicester East, not spread across the city.

“People from Leicester East need to be not travelling across the city.

“I don’t know how it would work but they have to implement a local lockdown.

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“In my view, we need to go back to the standard of lockdown we had at the beginning.”

As well as more non-essential businesses welcoming customers back from Saturday, racehorse owners will be allowed on course for the first time since the coronavirus restart.

The British Horseracing Authority announced plans to permit them entry to the prestigious Epsom Derby fixture.

All UK meetings have been held behind closed doors since June 1.

Mr Hancock is due to be making a statement about the Leicester outbreak later this evening.

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West Indies to wear Black Lives Matter logos on shirts in England Test series

The West Indies cricket team will wear “Black Lives Matter” logos on their shirts during next month’s Test series against England in a show of solidarity with the global movement.

The tourists will follow the lead of English Premier League footballers during the three-Test series, which starts at the Ageas Bowl on July 8.

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The move comes after the death of African-American George Floyd in US police custody last month.

The logo, which has a clenched fist in place of the letter ‘A’ in the word “Black”, was designed by Watford player Troy Deeney’s partner Alisha Hosannah.

West Indies captain Jason Holder said the team remained focused on winning the series but that there were bigger issues to address.

“This is a pivotal moment in history for sports, for the game of cricket and for the West Indies cricket team,” he said in a statement issued by Cricket West Indies.

“We have come to England to retain the Wisden Trophy but we are very conscious of happenings around the world and the fight for justice and equality.

“We believe we have a duty to show solidarity and also to help raise awareness.”

Jason Holder points to the Black Lives Matter logoSource:FOX SPORTS

Holder said sportsmen and women could influence opinion and be a force for change.

“We did not take our decision lightly,” he said.

“We know what it is for people to make judgments because of the colour of our skin, so we know what it feels like, this goes beyond the boundary.

“There must be equality and there must be unity. Until we get that as people, we cannot stop.” Deeney said he and Hosannah were overwhelmed by the gesture.

“Alisha and I are immensely proud to be asked and take part in a monumental moment in world sport, this amazing decision by the West Indies cricket team to show their support for Black Lives Matter,” he said.

Player power was behind the Premier League’s move to put “Black Lives Matter” on the back of shirts for the first 12 games following the restart of the competition.

Footballers are also wearing the logo on their sleeves for the rest of the campaign.

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons is in self-isolation after leaving his team’s bio-secure location in Manchester for a short period of compassionate leave.

Cricket West Indies confirmed that Simmons had twice tested negative for the virus since returning on Friday, and would have another test on Wednesday before rejoining the squad.

The West Indies start a four-day warm-up match against England at Old Trafford on Monday.

Simmons attended the funeral of his father-in-law, who had died prior to the team’s recent assembly in Manchester, having been given permission by medical officials.

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West Indies coach Phil Simmons in self-isolation after leaving bio-secure location for compassionate leave

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons is in self-isolation after leaving his team’s bio-secure location in Manchester for a short period of compassionate leave.

Cricket West Indies confirmed that Simmons has twice tested negative for the virus since returning on Friday, and will have another test on Wednesday before rejoining the squad.

The West Indies start a four-day warm-up match against England at Old Trafford on Monday, prior to the start of the first Test on 8 July.

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Simmons attended the funeral of his father-in-law, who had died prior to the team’s recent assembly in Manchester, having been given permission by medical officials.

Cricket West Indies medical chief Donovan Bennett said: “Phil Simmons adhered to the process of managed exit and re-entry as discussed with and agreed on between CWI and the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board).

“These contingencies were put in place before the tour was agreed on and all exits from the bio-secure environment must be agreed by both medical teams, before concessions are given.”

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Ben Stokes to captain England for the first time against West Indies

Ben Stokes to captain England for the first time against West Indies with Joe Root set to be at the birth of his second child – forcing the skipper to self-isolate for a week

  • Joe Root is set to miss England’s first Test next week against the West Indies
  • The 29-year-old has not missed a Test since being made skipper back in 2017
  •  His absence will mean Ben Stokes is set to captain England for the first time

Ben Stokes is preparing to captain England for the first time after the team management resigned themselves to being without Joe Root for next week’s first Test against West Indies.

Root’s wife, Carrie, is due to give birth to their second child, and has been booked in for a C-section in Sheffield over the next few days. But with Covid-19 protocols dictating that Root would have to self-isolate for a week even after leaving hospital, his chances of walking out at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl on July 8 are remote.

His absence will end an unbroken sequence of 77 Tests since he returned to the team in 2014 following his dropping at Sydney in January that year. Only Alastair Cook, who played a world-record 159 in a row, has appeared in more consecutive Tests for England.

Ben Stokes is set to replace the absent Joe Root as captain in the first Test with West Indies

That means Stokes, less than two years after he was acquitted on charges of affray at Bristol Crown Court, will finally lead his country, despite never having captained any team more prominent than the Durham academy in 2008.

And he will do so with the endorsement of England’s senior players.

‘Ben will be absolutely fine,’ said fast bowler Stuart Broad.

‘He has got a really good cricket brain, and has grown and matured incredibly over the last three or four years. To come in and captain one game, I think he’ll find that very easy. 

‘He’s taking over Rooty’s team to make on-field decisions, so I don’t think he’ll struggle in any aspects.’

 ‘One thing we have to encourage him as other players is to make sure he uses his own ability as well.

Joe Root is set to be at the birth of his second child in the coming days and will have to isolate 

Root’s absence means that Stokes will step in his place and captain England for the first time

‘Captains can be quite shy of bringing themselves on to bowl. But we just need to him encourage him: “Actually Stokesy, now’s your time to come on with the ball and make an impact.”

‘I’ve got no doubts he will be brilliant at captaining England.’

Root is expected to be ready to resume his leadership for the second Test at Emirates Old Trafford starting on July 16.




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