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Ben Stokes hopes England career ups and downs help him be Test captain success
He was announced as Joe Root’s successor last week.
Ben Stokes hopes the ups and downs of his England career will help him make a success of the Test captaincy.
Stokes was announced as Joe Root’s successor last week and will begin his reign against New Zealand at Lord’s next month.
It marks one of the proudest points in the all-rounder’s journey, during which he has produced some unforgettable performances and endured some major challenges.
He was arrested after a late night incident in Bristol in September 2017 and went on to miss an Ashes tour that winter before being cleared on a charge of affray, bouncing back to inspire England’s World Cup win in 2019.
Asked how his experiences had changed him over the course of his journey, Stokes told BBC Sport: “There’s a lot of things that I’ve gone through since I became a professional cricketer, and those experiences I feel are positive in this new role that I’ve got.
“I’ve been through a lot of goods and have been through a lot of bads and I feel like I can relate to both sides of what this sporting life can throw at you.
“I hope that now because I’m England captain, I’m not seen as a different person to the people who I’ve played with. I feel as if I’ve always been someone who anybody can come and speak to.
“I see everything that I’ve gone through as a positive and you can relate to people if that is good or bad. I don’t see anything that I’ve gone through as a negative. If anything, I see it as a way that I can always try and help them.”
Stokes’ credentials as a dressing room leader have never been in doubt, but as an all-action all-rounder he faces a mighty workload taking on the captain’s blazer.
Sir Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff, the two players he has most frequently been likened to since he burst on to the scene, both failed to make the grade as skipper but Stokes is not concerned about following in their footsteps.
“I’ve had to deal with comparisons to Andrew Flintoff and Sir Ian Botham since I was 18 or 19. And I’ve always said I’m not trying to be either of them, I’m just Ben Stokes,” he said.
“It’s naive and stupid to think that now, because I’m captain, my way is the only way and no-one else has a voice or an input. Because I feel that’s one thing that a leader needs to do. Always make sure that other people around them feel valued and have a voice.
“It’s one thing I did against West Indies at Southampton when I was captain I asked Jos (Buttler) a lot, especially about my personal use as a bowler. So I’ll be using that and not just thinking I can do everything.”
I want to have selfless cricketers who make decisions based on what they can do to win a game
- Ben Stokes
England’s Test team have managed just one victory in their last 17 attempts and Stokes admits he faces a challenge to turn around results.
He told Sky Sports: “It’s obviously an exciting time for myself to be appointed as captain. It is a challenge, especially after the last few years.
“But for me it’s not about focusing on what’s gone in the past, it’s focusing on what we’ve got going forward. That starts now.
“There’s a lot that needs to change, not only on the field, and those discussions will be had.
“I want to have selfless cricketers who make decisions based on what they can do to win a game in that given time. You’re always judged on winning games, and the decisions I make are based around the best thing to do to give us that chance. I want to have 10 other guys with me who are in that same mindset.”
Stokes said he would address the issue of the vice-captaincy closer to the New Zealand opener on June 2.
He told Sky Sports: “The great thing is that I could name five or six people who could do that role at the moment. Vice-captaincy can sometimes feel like a bit of a token gesture role.
“But I took my role very seriously and I tried to help Joe (Root) as much as I could. It’s not something to take for granted. It’s not at the top of the priority list at the moment, but there will be a time to consider that more deeply.
“Joe is a senior player in this group and always will be going forward. He is someone I and other players will look to for advice. He has captained the team for six years, so it would be stupid not to ask advice from him.”
On the futures of record wicket-taker James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who were omitted from the recent tour of the West Indies, Stokes added: “If they are fit they are up for selection because they are the two best bowlers in England.
“They are two greats of the game and they are part of the best XI. Pretty simple.”