Ben Stokes sympathised with Joe Root for the “sleepless nights” he must have as captain after West Indies defeated England in the first match of the three-Test series in Southampton on Sunday.
Jermaine Blackwood made 95 as the West Indies, set 200 to win on the last day, finished on 202/6. West Indies captain Jason Holder was 14 not out after the all-rounder took a Test-best 6/42 in England’s lowly first innings 204.
Root, who was away for the birth of his child, will return as leader of the England team in the second Test in Manchester. As far as Stokes is concerned, he is happy to go back to being Root’s deputy.
“Joe is one of the best players in the world so he is a big miss when he doesn’t play. Next week I don’t need to make any of the decisions, so good luck Joe,” Stokes was quoted as saying after the first Test.
“Last night was the only night that I really struggled to sleep because there was a lot to think about: how the game is going to end up, what’s going to happen. I can see why Joe loses a lot of sleep because he’s got to do that every game.”
One of the big decisions made by Stokes in his first Test as captain was leaving out Stuart Broad. The veteran pacer even made his displeasure known in an interview mid-Test.
“I stand by my decision,” said Stokes. “If I didn’t, what kind of message does it give to the guys we picked? I felt pace was going to be beneficial in the long run and obviously we lost, but I stand by it. I thought Stuart’s interview was absolutely brilliant,” Stokes said. “To see the emotion and desire he still has burning inside him is great to see as a senior player. And it shows he’s nowhere near done.”
Stokes was even questioned on his decision to win the toss and bat first despite the presence of dark clouds on the first day.
“We weren’t ruthless enough,” said the star all-rounder. “A basic of Test match cricket is getting big first-innings runs. The positive from it is we’ve got a young lad in Zak Crawley who [scored 76 in the second innings] and showed the potential of someone who can be around for a long time.”
Victory in a match that marked international cricket’s return from lockdown put the West Indies 1-0 up with two to play in a behind-closed-doors series. The second Test at Old Trafford starts on Thursday.