The first Test match after a lengthy break owing to the COVID-19 pandemic will take place, subject to government approval, between England and West Indies Southampton on July 8. However, England might miss their regular captain Joe Root in the first Test at the Ageas Bowl next month with his wife, Carrie, due to give birth to their second child at the start of July according to a report on Cricbuzz. Root wants to be at the birth come what may and this could well see Ben Stokes, who is the vice-captain, being elevated to lead England for the first time.
Although he has never captained his country and just thrice in domestic cricket, Stokes has served as vice-captain to Root for a while now. He reclaimed the vice-captaincy duties, post the Bristol incident, last July ahead of the Ashes.
There is little to no doubt that Stokes has leadership qualities and a feel for the game. That he is in spectacular form will also help him.
“I think if Ben was captain he would be fantastic,” Root said. “One of his great qualities as vice-captain and as a leader is he sets the example, the way he goes about his training, how he wants to bowl in difficult circumstances, the way he stands up in different scenarios with the bat.
“He drags people with him and gets the best out of the players around him. I think that’s a great quality to have as a leader and something he can take into captaincy if he was to get the opportunity. I could see him doing a very good job.”
Even if it happens, Stokes will know that the job is temporary. Root, nearly three years into the job, is far from finished yet. But as a long-term option, Stokes will be eyed as one of the leading candidates to become England’s next Test captain.
“People will always look up to him and want to play for him, whether captain or not,” said Root. “But especially as captain he’ll have people wanting to play for him and short-term he’d be a huge success. Until you get the opportunity to do it longer, you just never know, it might be a huge success. I wouldn’t put it past him.
“Throughout his career he’s always responded well and Test captaincy is more than just a bit of added responsibility. Over time it does take a lot out of you but he’s a very impressive player and man in our dressing room. I’d never say Ben Stokes can’t do anything.”