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Joe Root set to miss first Test, Ben Stokes to lead

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Joe Root, England’s captain in Test Cricket, is set to miss the first Test against the West Indies at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton to be with his wife, Carrie, for the birth of their second child.

Root leaves the England training camp tomorrow afternoon, meaning that he will miss the three day intra-squad warm up match starting tomorrow and, more importantly, thw first Test against West Indies beginning from the 8th of July. He will rejoin the England squad ahead of the second Test at Emirates Old Trafford on Monday 13 July.

Ben Stokes, England’s talismanic all rounder and vice captain, is set to take over the leadership duties for the first Test, with Jos Buttler to assume vice captaincy duties. Stokes will become the 81st Cricketer to have led England in Test Cricket.

“Obviously 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’,” he said. “So 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 to take over the reins for the one game because of Joe’s personal situation.”

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Stokes, though, has had limited experience as skipper. He has only led a professional Cricket team thrice, once for Durham under-17s and twice for Durham’s academy. His record stands at won one, lost one, drawn one. He said, about his experience as captain so far, “I don’t remember much because I was about 16. I’ve never set a goal out to want to be a captain. If you look at people like Alastair Cook, he was always destined to be 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. It’s never been a goal, but I’m really looking forward to the opportunity of doing it. I’ve never really set massive goals to be honest it’s just always about winning.”

When asked about what kind of approach would Stokes possess as captain, he joked, “Nine slips and a gully, probably.” He continued, “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. There are 11 guys out on the field, so why not get 10 other opinions on something that you’re thinking about? I hope that I always try to set the example in terms of attitude and commitment towards what I do. Having the added responsibility of being a captain also comes with pressure, in terms of making decisions, especially through tough periods of the game, which Test cricket can throw at you. If another team are putting a big partnership on, you’re the person who makes the decisions to try to break that partnership.”
“You’ve got all that to think about. Even if I am in charge that’s not going to change the way that I go about things, in terms of how I want to influence the game, which is try to make a positive effect with the ball or bat in my hand. No matter what I do in terms of choosing what to do in a situation, it will always be the positive route.”

Stokes also spoke about how he would want to handle his pacers, including himself, saying, “If the pitch is flat I will throw the ball to Jofra, Jimmy and Broady and say here you go! It is a tough one. When Joe asks me to come and bowl, if I’m not bowling well I know I’m going to be taken off. But if I am bowling well and feeling in great rhythm, he doesn’t just say keep going he just looks and goes ‘one more’? He will say that for another four or five overs. I guess I will have to be a bit more mindful if I am the one making that decision. It is a tough one to know if you are feeling good as a bowler when to put yourself on or keep yourself on. I don’t know, you will have to wait and see.”