Ben Stokes believes the highs and lows of his England career make him the man best to revive the flagging Test team as he gears up to kick off his reign against New Zealand
- Ben Stokes has spoken out for the first time since becoming England captain
- The all-rounder replaces Joe Root as the leader of the England Test squad
- The Stokes reign begins with a series against New Zealand next month
Ben Stokes hopes the ups and downs of his England career will help him make a success of the Test captaincy.
Stokes was announced as Joe Root’s successor last week and will begin his reign against New Zealand at Lord’s next month.
It marks one of the proudest points in the all-rounder’s journey, during which he has produced some unforgettable performances and endured some major challenges.
Ben Stokes was officially unveiled as England’s new Test team captain on Tuesday
His reign begins next month against New Zealand, with the first Test held at Lord’s
He was arrested after a late night incident in Bristol in September 2017 and went on to miss an Ashes tour that winter before being cleared on a charge off affray, bouncing back to inspire England’s World Cup win in 2019.
Asked how his experiences had changed him over the course of his journey, Stokes told BBC Sport: ‘There’s a lot of things that I’ve gone through since I became a professional cricketer, and those experiences I feel are positive in this new role that I’ve got.
‘I’ve been through a lot of goods and have been through a lot of bads and I feel like I can relate to both sides of what this sporting life can throw at you.
‘I hope that now because I’m England captain, I’m not seen as a different person to the people who I’ve played with. I feel as if I’ve always been someone who anybody can come and speak to.
‘I see everything that I’ve gone through as a positive and you can relate to people if that is good or bad. I don’t see anything that I’ve gone through as a negative. If anything, I see it as a way that I can always try and help them.’
Stokes’ credentials as a dressing room leader have never been in doubt, but as an all-action all-rounder he faces a mighty workload taking on the captain’s blazer.
Sir Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff, the two players he has most frequently been likened to since he burst on to the scene, both failed to make the grade as skipper but Stokes is not concerned about following in their footsteps.
‘I’ve had to deal with comparisons to Andrew Flintoff and Sir Ian Botham since I was 18 or 19. And I’ve always said I’m not trying to be either of them, I’m just Ben Stokes,’ he said.
‘It’s naive and stupid to think that now, because I’m captain, my way is the only way and no-one else has a voice or an input. Because I feel that’s one thing that a leader needs to do. Always make sure that other people around them feel valued and have a voice.
‘It’s one thing I did against West Indies at Southampton when I was captain I asked Jos (Buttler) a lot, especially about my personal use as a bowler. So I’ll be using that and not just thinking I can do everything.’
Stokes’ finest moment in an England Test shirt was the unbeaten century against Australia at Headingley in 2019
Stokes inherits the armband from Joe Root, with England having just one win in 17 matches
England’s Test team have managed just one victory in their last 17 attempts and Stokes admits he faces a challenge to turn around results.
He told Sky Sports: ‘It’s obviously an exciting time for myself to be appointed as captain. It is a challenge, especially after the last few years.
‘But for me it’s not about focusing on what’s gone in the past, it’s focusing on what we’ve got going forward. That starts now.
‘There’s a lot that needs to change, not only on the field, and those discussions will be had.
‘I want to have selfless cricketers who make decisions based on what they can do to win a game in that given time. You’re always judged on winning games, and the decisions I make are based around the best thing to do to give us that chance. I want to have 10 other guys with me who are in that same mindset.’