LONDON: Star all-rounder Ben Stokes was named as England’s new Test captain on Thursday, replacing Joe Root, who stood down earlier this month after a string of defeats.
The 30-year-old, who served as Root’s deputy, was the overwhelming favourite to take charge of a struggling team that has won just one of their past 17 matches.
Stokes, whose career is peppered with staggering performances with bat and ball, has been a loyal lieutenant to Root and made a point of praising his friend and predecessor in a short statement.
“I am honoured to be given the chance to lead the England Test team,” he said. “This is a real privilege and I’m excited about getting started this summer.
“I want to thank Joe for everything he has done for English cricket and for always being a great ambassador for the sport all across the world. He has been a massive part of my development as a leader in the dressing room and he will continue to be a key ally for me in this role.”
Root resigned after five years in charge following a 1-0 series loss in the Caribbean, which came hot on the heels of a humiliating 4-0 Ashes defeat in Australia.
New managing director of England men’s cricket Rob Key said: “I had no hesitation in offering the role of Test captain to Ben. He epitomises the mentality and approach we want to take this team forward into the next era of red-ball cricket.
“I am delighted that he has accepted, and he is ready for the added responsibility and the honour. He thoroughly deserves the opportunity.”
Stokes already has a formidable workload as an all-format, pace-bowling all-rounder and only last year took a mental health break from cricket.
He has scored more than 5,000 Test runs and taken 174 wickets in 79 matches and is also one of the stars of England’s white-ball teams.
New Zealand challenge
Stokes’s first match as the permanent England captain will come against New Zealand, the country of his birth, at the start of a three-Test series at Lord’s on June 2.
He previously captained the Test side in a four-wicket defeat by the West Indies in Southampton two years ago when Root was on paternity leave – his only first-class match in charge.
But he has long been regarded as a leading figure in the England dressing room and was praised for the way he led an inexperienced side in a 3-0 one-day international series win at home to Pakistan last year after a coronavirus outbreak ruled out the first-choice squad.
His promotion to the captaincy completes a remarkable turnaround for the player, whose career was in the balance when he was charged with affray following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in 2017 before being found not guilty following a court case.
Key is still looking to appoint a permanent head coach, although he has said he will split the job into separate red and white-ball roles