Ben Stokes has given his players a clean slate and a supportive arm to kick off his time in charge of the Test team.
The new England captain insisted it would be a fresh start for the side under him after a year of chronic underachievement. And having been through so much himself on and off the field Stokes reckons he now has the tools to cope with the demands of the job to get the best out of his players.
“It’s a very easy thing to say but hopefully I can get the message across that this is a clean slate,” said Stokes. “So all your previous performances, good or bad, we’re just starting fresh here. We are picking you because we feel like you are one of the best players in England. Everything that has happened before, don’t worry about it, we are starting fresh here.”
Stokes may be sweeping a new broom through the Test side, but his experiences as a player are informing his approach on and off the field. He will continue to see the psychiatrist he began speaking with during his break from the game last year for his mental health to ensure that he doesn’t burn himself out with the new role.
And he will encourage his players to feel like they can come to him no matter what they are going through, because he is likely to have been there too. “With the mental side now, a lot of negative things can be written about it,” he added. “But I took my break back then because I needed to.
“I spoke with someone and I will continue to do that and personally I see the stuff I’ve been through as a positive for me now being captain. I feel like I can relate to anything going forward. If any of the players might be struggling with something, I have been that person. Any player should feel like they can talk to me. I hope that doesn’t change now I’m captain.”
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