Ashes: Ben Stokes has no ambition to be England captain


Ben Stokes and Joe Root
Ben Stokes (left) has led England in one previous Test

Ben Stokes says he does not aspire to be England captain and has given his backing to current skipper Joe Root.

Root’s position is under scrutiny after England went 3-0 down to Australia to lose the Ashes series at the earliest opportunity.

All-rounder Stokes, the vice-captain, would perhaps be the only credible alternative because of his experience and guaranteed place in the team.

“I’ve never really had an ambition to be a captain,” the 30-year-old said.

“Captaincy is more than about setting fields, picking the team, making decisions out there in the middle. A captain is someone you want to go out and play for. Joe Root is someone I always want to play for.”

Stokes has led England in one previous Test, a defeat by West Indies in 2020 when Root was on paternity leave.

He also presided over the 3-0 one-day international series win over Pakistan earlier this year when an entire England squad had to replaced because of an outbreak of Covid-19.

Root, 31, will take charge of his 60th match for the fourth Test against Australia in Sydney, starting on Wednesday (23:30 GMT, Tuesday).

He will pass the England record of 59 set by predecessor Alastair Cook, whom he succeeded in 2017.

However, despite his supreme form with the bat, Root has now had three Ashes series without a win, following the 4-0 defeat in Australia in 2017-18 and 2-2 draw at home in 2019.

Still, despite the length of his tenure, Stokes does not believe Root is ready to give up being captain yet.

“I don’t sense that at all with Joe,” said Stokes. “He’s brought this team a long way. He’s done some great things. Obviously, this series hasn’t gone too well, not from a captaincy point of view, but from a team and results point of view.

“It’s totally Joe’s decision. He shouldn’t be forced into doing it. I’m sure Cooky felt the same way. He did it for so long and when he knew his time was up, his time was up. Those discussions haven’t entered anywhere near Joe yet.

Stokes also gave his support to coach Chris Silverwood, who has seen his team win only one of their past 12 Tests.

Silverwood is in isolation after contracting Covid-19 and will miss the fourth Test, but is expected to return for the series finale in Hobart.

“Unfortunately, the captain and coach bear the scrutiny, but there are 10 other guys out there in the field,” said Stokes.

“Chris Silverwood is a real players’ coach. He stands up for you as individuals and players as well.

“All the hype in the media recently about their futures, it’s your job to write that, but they know full well they have the support of everyone in there and that’s all that matters.”

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