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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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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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