Updated:Apr 28, 2022
A couple of weeks have passed since England’s batsman Joe Root has stepped down as captain. Fast forward to today and it looks like the new managing director Rob Key has made his decision on his replacement. Step forward England all-rounder Ben Stokes.Embed from Getty Images
It is reported that Key went to visit Ben Stokes on Tuesday to discuss the role further with him. The Durham all-rounder was reportedly ecstatic and honoured with the opportunity given to him. The appointment looks set to be confirmed by England’s new managing director in a press conference on Thursday this week. As well as this, Key looks to be firmly set on appointing Gary Kirsten as his new red-ball first-team coach.
Ben Stokes seemed that natural replacement for the departing Joe Root, with him already being the vice-captain along with very few current England players being guaranteed starters in the starting XI. However, even though he seems like the stand-out option, Ben Stokes has limited capacity experience. His most recent spell as captain was a stand-in job in England’s 3-0 victory in the white-ball format last summer.Embed from Getty Images
How will Ben Stokes England look?
In the Ben Stokes meeting with Key on Tuesday, one of his main desires is to bring back England’s most successful opening bowling partnership of all time. That being the experienced duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad. The England bowlers, with 640 and 537 test match wickets respectively, will bring back a wide range of experience and skill, which England desperately needed on their most recent tour of the West Indies.
England’s bowling attack in the Caribbean looked pedestrian, one-paced and lacking any real venom. With Jofra Archer and Mark Wood still recovering from elbow injuries, the lack of pace in England’s attack is mediocre at the international level.
Should Anderson and Broad be recalled into the test team, however that should give England enough guile and skill in order to compete in summer test matches against New Zealand, India and South Africa.Embed from Getty Images
Ben Stokes and England’s batting unit
Along with the bowling problems, England still has to sort out their batting line-up. The opening partnership still fails to find consistency in their performances. Since Alistair Cook’s retirement back in 2018, the highest average of an opening batter is Rory Burns who averages 30.32. These are measly numbers in comparison to opening batters of the past such as Cook and Strauss who averaged 45.35 and 40.91 respectively.
England’s batting problems don’t stop at the opening pair. Whilst Joe Root batted in his usual fluidity at no.3 this is not his best or favoured position as proven over the years. Dan Lawerence has looked promising in spells since his debut in 2021 against Sri Lanka but has far from cemented his place as an England top-order player.
The recent success of Josh Bohannon has brought the attention of the England camp as he was selected for the England Lions tour of Australia in the winter. With a first-class average of 47.50, he is certainly knocking on the door of a first-team place.Embed from Getty Images
While Ben Stokes himself is cemented in the no.5 slot, the middle order is another area of uncertainty for England. In the most recent test series, England used both Jonny Bairstow and Ben Foakes. Whilst Bairstow scored a hundred and Foakes didn’t do himself any disservice with the bat, both men have been in and out of the side over recent years.
Ollie Pope has excelled in the County Championship for Surrey averaging over 50. Despite this, his form has not translated over the international scene. Although, it’s surely only a matter of time before it all clicks for him and he flourishes on the international scene.
How does this affect Ben Stokes’ game?
Whilst this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Ben Stokes, there is a risk that he may become overloaded with the weight of the team on his shoulders. He is England’s go to man with the bat, ball and in the field. Now, with the extra responsibility of captaincy, there will be a fear this will detriment his game.
This has been previously evidenced with England all-rounders Sir Ian Botham and Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff. They struggled with the extra responsibility of capacity which affected both their own and the team’s performance.
Hopefully, for Ben Stokes and England’s sake, history does not repeat itself. The red-ball reset needs to happen sooner rather than later and hopefully, Ben Stokes is the man to lead England through a more successful period.