England skipper Joe Root believes Ben Stokes would make a “fantastic captain” if he has to hand over the reins when he becomes a father again. The England and Wales Cricket Board still plan to stage a full international programme despite the coronavirus-shortened season.
The schedule will begin with a three-Test series against the West Indies, starting on July 8 at Southampton – around the time that Root’s wife is due to give birth to their second child.
The England captain said on Tuesday that he would attend the birth come what may, with Stokes in line to take over. Root has no doubt the star all-rounder would cope with the extra burden that comes with captaincy.
“I think if Ben was captain he would be fantastic,” said Root.
“One of his great qualities as vice-captain and as a leader is he sets the example, the way he goes about his training, how he wants to bowl in difficult circumstances, the way he stands up in different scenarios with the bat. He drags people with him and gets the best out of the players around him.”
Stokes was restored to the England vice-captaincy after missing the 2017-’18 Ashes in Australia, before being acquitted on an affray charge following an incident outside a nightclub. Since then he has played a starring role during England’s triumphant World Cup campaign and scored a stupendous unbeaten Test hundred as England beat Australia at Headingley.
Although England want to keep their squad in a secure “bubble” to prevent the spread of Covid-19, they have said players will be allowed to spend time between matches with their families.
“The start of July is the due date, so that complicates things slightly,” said Root. “In terms of the bubble, and the pregnancy, it’s always an evolving thing, it’s being discussed currently with the medical team.”
The ECB confirmed the revised dates for the West Indies series on Tuesday and Root said it would be a huge boost for the game even if they are behind closed doors.
“It must be extremely scary and I think the whole cricketing world will be grateful to see some cricket again,” he said.
Root returns to training
The 29-year-old was back in the nets for the first time this season on Monday, working with former England coach Peter Moores at Trent Bridge. “There are obviously a lot of protocols put in place, but it wasn’t too dissimilar to how you would normally go about a net session,” said Root.
“To start with, everything seems a million miles an hour. Slowly, as a few hours went on, it seemed to come back to me. By the end of it, I felt really good.”
And Root said his enforced break from cricket had allowed him time to think about his game both as a captain and a batsman. He said he felt refreshed as he aims to improve on a record of 48 Test fifties but only 17 hundreds.
“Hopefully that has a positive impact on both sides of my cricket and we can start seeing a few more converted scores and England winning plenty of games,” he added.
England fast bowler Jofra Archer has suggested crowd noise is pumped into grounds to compensate for the lack of fans at the matches. “It depends if they’re saying I should be sacked in the morning,” joked Root.
“But a few Barmy Army chants a couple of times a session would be nice. If we need a wicket or something, I’m sure the lads would appreciate that.”
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