Ben Stokes replaced Joe Root as England’s Test captain at a stage when the team has won only one of their last 17 five-day games. The 30-year-old is the latest all-rounder in the role – the likes of Andrew Flintoff and Ian Botham leading the list.
Stokes’ first assignment as England Test skipper will be against Rohit Sharma’s men for the remaining fifth Test from their India tour. The game will be one of the toughest tests both the all-rounder and Indian counterpart have faced.
England have not really enjoyed much success with all-rounders leading them. The Three Lions were winless in the 12 Test matches they played under Bothem in 1980-81. Under Flintoff, they won two out of 11 matches. The period also included a 5-0 whitewash Down Under in the Ashes.
Ben Stokes is the first all-rounder since Flintoff to take over the captaincy.
“I have had to live with the tag of Andrew Flintoff and Sir Ian Botham since I was 18 but I have always maintained I have never tried to be Andrew Flintoff or Sir Ian Botham. I am Ben Stokes,” the player said on Tuesday upon being presented as England’s latest Test captain.
The 30-year-old was England’s vice-captain with Root in the front. He already played under the pressure of delivering with the ball and bat. Ben Stokes missed out on a majority of action in 2021 after he took a break to focus on his mental health. He also was recovering from two finger operations.
He believes his experience last year helps him in that respect, rather than reflects any weakness.
“There is always a negative feeling around mental health but I took my break, I went and spoke with someone, and will continue to do that. I see it as a positive that me being in this role now, having gone through what I went through last summer and even before that, I have a huge amount of experience at what life can throw at you,” Stokes said.
Ben Stokes hopes that players continue to speak with him ‘ if they felt anything was getting on top of them or they weren’t happy with anything’.
“I see it as a positive that I’ll be able to relate to a lot of different scenarios that cricket and life can throw at you while being an international cricketer.”