ENG vs WI: Should Ben Stokes lead in Root's absence?
England skipper Joe Root is likely to miss the first Test against West Indies as Root's wife is due to give birth to their second child in July. As per reports, vice-captain Ben Stokes is expected to lead the side in Root's absence. However, former England captains David Gower and Kevin Pietersen believe Stokes could get burdened by the additional responsibility. Here is more.
Gower described how England's greatest all-rounder Ian Botham failed to win matches after taking the charge. Notably, Botham replaced Mike Brearley as captain in 1980. Under the former, England failed to win a single Test from 12 matches and lost four. They drew as many as eight Tests. Following a number of crushing defeats, Botham's stint as captain came to an end.
"The obvious comparison is Botham. Whether that is diminished by the pressures of leadership, only Ben will know. I'm sure he'll do it with gusto. I'd just want someone else to worry about the bits and pieces that make up captaincy," Gower told ESPNcricinfo.
Kevin Pietersen, whose own captaincy stint was marred by controversies, feels the greatest players aren't always the best captains. "You get looked at completely differently: responsibilities change, communication changes, the way in which you carry yourself in the dressing room changes," said Pietersen. "It's a difficult place to be. I struggled with it. I absolutely hated it, and I was rubbish."
Pietersen asserted he would rather like to see Jos Buttler as captain. Although Buttler has led England in ten limited-overs games, he lacks the experience of Test cricket. "It's a completely different story. So do I think I want to see Ben Stokes change from who he is and the current player he is? Probably not. Jos Buttler would be my guy," added Pietersen.
Besides Buttler, Rory Burns is another contender to replace Root. The left-handed batsman captained Surrey in the 2018 County Championship. However, Root has already backed Stokes for the role, stating he has the qualities to lead the side. "If Ben was captain, he would be fantastic. One of his great qualities as vice-captain and leader is, he sets the example," Root had said.
England will lock horns with West Indies in the series opener at the Ageas Bowl from July 8-12, while the Emirates Old Trafford will host the second (July 16-20) and third Test (24-28). However, tour will be subject to government clearance.