Ben Stokes will lead England out at Lord’s as the new Test captain after being offered the job by Rob Key.
Stokes was honoured to accept the role and take over from his friend and former skipper Joe Root to start a new era for the misfiring side.
With the decision made, it now requires the ECB board to ratify it before announcing it officially, as they do whenever a new England captain is appointed. And if the board can meet quickly enough virtually on Wednesday, Key may well be in a position to announce the installation of Stokes as Test skipper at his first media conference on Thursday.
The appointment of Stokes is the first major move of Key’s tenure as managing director of men’s cricket and it has been a relatively straightforward one. The pair spoke on the phone over the Easter weekend when Key was confirmed in his post, with the captaincy already part of the conversation.
But it was only after Key made the journey up to the North East to see Stokes face to face on Tuesday that things were confirmed. They discussed plans for the future of the Test side that is in desperate need of a shot in the arm after its most recent 1-0 series defeat in the Caribbean.
And Key believes Stokes is the best man to provide it as the new leader of the team following Root’s resignation.
Already a leader in the dressing room after 79 caps and countless match-winning performances, Stokes was Root's vice captain for much of his time in charge.
But the elevation to the job full time represents a full circle for Stokes who has had his ups and downs during his time as an England cricketer, not least surrounding events in Bristol in 2017 and when he took time out of the game last year to look after his mental well-being.
Despite those periods out of the side, Stokes has continued to be an essential part of the team, and reaffirmed his commitment to Test cricket by withdrawing from the Indian Premier League this season to focus on red ball cricket. He will resume playing once more on May 5th for Durham against Worcestershire.
Stokes has done the job as Test skipper once before as a stand-in for Root who was absent for the birth of his second child in 2020. The game ended in a close four wicket defeat against the West Indies in Southampton but Stokes showed that he had the qualities required to lead, not least when he insisted that he be the one to inform Stuart Broad that he had been left out of the side before the game.
Concerns over his workload as the team’s all rounder were also allayed as he produced the goods with both bat and ball in the match, but crucially didn’t overbowl himself in the push for victory. Stokes will be the first player from Durham to hold the permanent position as England Test captain with current director of cricket Marcus North describing him as someone who ‘will have the whole dressing room behind him.’
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