England all-rounder Ben Stokes on Tuesday was confirmed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to lead his side in the absence of Joe Root, who will be missing the Test series opener against West Indies at the Ageas Bowl on July 8. And even though for the talented cricketer the responsibility might last for only one match, Stokes has clarified that he wants a ‘decent’ say when it comes to the selection of the final playing XI for the opener.
Stokes has already become an inspirational figure in his country after his heroic show in England’s World Cup 2019 win before that remarkable show at Headingley in 2019 Ashes that held the hosts hold a dominating Aussies to 2-2 draw, and is now set to lead the nation, nevertheless in one Test, as regular-skipper Joe Root will be away on personal reasons.
But before the official confirmation came from ECB, Stokes clarified that he wants to be part of the playing XI selection process for the opener and wants to have a say in it. But he also admitted that he might lose out on many friends if all are fit for the Ageas Bowl game.
“When crunch comes to crunch then I would quite like to have a decent say in terms of the final XI that will be walking out onto the field,” the 29-year-old told reporters on Monday from the team’s training base in Southampton which is also the venue for the first Test.
“I feel we are in a situation like the one-day team before the World Cup where you could pick 16 guys for the XI which is a great place to be. First game in charge, if everyone’s fit, I might not have as many friends!”
For Stokes and the team management, their main concern will be deciding on the top-three and Root’s replacement at No.4.
England have had six different opening pairs since Alastair Cook’s retirement Test in September 2018 and none if the pairs have opened for more than nine innings. While Rory Burns is a guarantee for the opening spot, Dom Sibley, Joe Denly and Zak Crawley will be fighting it out for the other two.