Ben Stokes says there is no extra workload as England captain and that ‘dark moments’ will help him | Cricket News


New England captain Ben Stokes wants “selfless” cricketers as he aims to resuscitate the team in the Test arena after just one win in last 17 games; says James Anderson and Stuart Broad remain in the best XI; “very proud” of the way he has come back from Bristol incident in 2017

Last Updated: 03/05/22 1:59pm


Ben Stokes shares his thoughts on how previously taking a mental health break could benefit his England captaincy and how he has changed through his experiences.

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Ben Stokes shares his thoughts on how previously taking a mental health break could benefit his England captaincy and how he has changed through his experiences.

Ben Stokes shares his thoughts on how previously taking a mental health break could benefit his England captaincy and how he has changed through his experiences.

Ben Stokes has no concerns about the burden placed him on as England captain and believes the “dark moments” he has gone through will help him as he aims to revive an ailing Test team alongside “selfless” players and the returning James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

Stokes’ appointment as successor to Joe Root was confirmed last week and he is now plotting how to arrest a slump which has seen England lose 11 and win just one of their previous 17 Test matches.

The 30-year-old says he can shoulder the roles of leader and go-to all-rounder physically and mentally and feels his break from the game in 2021 in order to prioritise his mental health and the way he recovered from the Bristol incident in 2017 – which he says he feared would end his career – will stand him in good stead as he fulfils a job “you can’t exactly turn down”.

You obviously have to give it some consideration. It’s not a job where you can just say ‘yep’, you have to think about everything else that comes with the job. But it didn’t take me very long. It’s not exactly a role you can turn down.

Ben Stokes on taking the England Test captaincy

Speaking to Sky Sports News about the pressures of being captain and all-rounder, Stokes said: “That’s a media thing.

“The people who write all that are obviously taking that from other people who have done the role that have been the all-rounder.

“I have had to live with the tag of Andrew Flintoff and Sir Ian Botham since I was 18 but I’ve never tried to be Andrew Flintoff or Sir Ian Botham. I’m Ben Stokes.

“The workload is not going to increase as I will still be playing the same amount of cricket and what’s top of my priority list is this Test team going forward.

Stokes' first game in permanent charge will be against New Zealand at Lord's on June 2

Stokes’ first game in permanent charge will be against New Zealand at Lord’s on June 2

“I will be putting all my energy into doing that as I know I have a huge role here getting this Test team back to winning ways.”

“We have to be careful with how much I do and I’m sure there will be conversations with director of cricket Rob [Key] and Eoin [Morgan], who is captain of the white-ball team about where there is potential to have some time off but in terms of the workload going up it’s not going to change.”

Stokes: Mental-health break was a positive

On last year’s sabbatical, Stokes said: “There is always a negative feeling around mental health but I see it as a positive me being in this role having gone through what I went through last summer and even before that.

“I have a huge amount of experience of what life and the game can throw at you.

“I have always felt I was someone young players, senior players can speak to if they feel anything is getting on top of them or they weren’t happy with anything. I hope that continues.

“I don’t see any of this as a negative whatsoever. I see it as a huge positive that I will be able to relate to lots of different scenarios cricket and life can throw at you while being an international cricketer.”

Stokes was arrested outside a Bristol nightclub in 2017 before being acquitted of affray.

“I have made it very obvious that, back then, I did feel that it looked like my career was going to be over but every experience I have gone through I have learnt from.

Stokes scored his 11th Test hundred during March's series in the West Indies

Stokes scored his 11th Test hundred during March’s series in the West Indies

“It’s how you come back from them and I feel I have come back from every down moment pretty well. I am very proud of how I can get myself back from very dark moments, not just off the field.

“I have been through the highs and lows of what cricket can do to you and always tried to learn from those and become a better player.”

‘I want selfless cricketers in my team’

Stokes’ numerous on-field highs for England have included him underpinning his side’s victory in the 2019 50-over World Cup final at Lord’s and then leading the team to a one-wicket victory in that summer’s Ashes Test at Headingley with an extraordinary 135 not out.

England's new Test captain Ben Stokes reveals his plans for Joe Root, James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

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England’s new Test captain Ben Stokes reveals his plans for Joe Root, James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

England’s new Test captain Ben Stokes reveals his plans for Joe Root, James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

Stokes says every decision he makes on a cricket pitch is about how he can help his side emerge victorious and is now looking for that mentality from his players.

“A lot needs to change – not just on the field but those kind of things will be going on and they are not really for me to be speaking about here.

“A great starting point for me on the field is that I want to have selfless cricketers who make decisions based on what they can do to win a game in that given time. At the end of the day, you are judged on winning games. That has always been the most important thing for me.

“Decisions I make are based on what is the best thing to do to give us a chance. I want to have 10 other guys out there with me who have that mindset.”

Stuart Broad and James Anderson are available for Test selection, with Stokes eager for the seamers to be involved this summer

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Stuart Broad and James Anderson are available for Test selection, with Stokes eager for the seamers to be involved this summer

Stuart Broad and James Anderson are available for Test selection, with Stokes eager for the seamers to be involved this summer

Those 10 other guys look likely to include Anderson, 39 and Broad, 35, with England’s all-time leading Test wicket-takers, jettisoned for the 1-0 series defeat in the West Indies in March, available for selection and still in the best XI, according to Stokes.

He added of two bowlers with a combined 1,177 Test wickets: “The best chance to win Test matches is by picking your 11 best players and they are part of the best XI, so, yeah, it’s pretty simple.

“If they are fit, they are up for selection because they are the two best bowlers in England, two of the greats of the game. It would be stupid to never consider them for selection.”

Stokes: Root won’t be vice-captain

Broad and Anderson could be contenders to be Stokes’ vice-captain when the Test summer begins against New Zealand at Lord’s on June 2, live on Sky Sports.

Stokes did not name any candidates specifically but said there were “five or six people” in the running – although ruled out former skipper Root serving as his deputy.

“The vice-captaincy can sometimes feel like a token-gesture role but I took it very seriously because you are playing a huge part in helping your captain. It’s a very, very important role and not something to take for granted.

“Joe [Root] will always be someone I look to for advice, someone players will turn to for advice to. He has captained the team for six years, it would be stupid not to ask for advice.

“But making him vice-captain would be a bit backward as if I left the field he would be captain again and he has just stepped down.”





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