Ben Stokes was appointed as captain of England’s Test cricket team, taking on the high pressure role just a few months after returning from a long spell away from the game to protect his mental health. The all-rounder was the only credible option to replace Joe Root, who quit his position - which he had held for five years - two weeks ago with England having only won one of its last 17 Test matches.
It is the first big decision by Rob Key, the former England batsman who was recently hired as managing director of men’s cricket in England in a turbulent period for the national team that is currently without a head coach.
Key said he was sure Stokes was ready to shoulder the burden of the captaincy despite missing most of 2021 to focus on his well-being and also recover from two finger operations. It could mean Stokes plays fewer one-day and Twenty20 internationals, though. “It’s just something we’ve got to do we’ve got to manage that load, we have to prioritize at times where we think he needs to be playing. At the moment, that’s going to be Test cricket,” Key said. “I don’t think we have to overthink this. We have to make sure he is in a good frame of mind, his body is in good shape, and then we can plan accordingly. ”
While announcing Stokes’ new role, Key also said veteran fast bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad - the top two wicket-takers in England’s test history - would also be available again after being controversially left out of the recent West Indies tour. England plays Test series against New Zealand and South Africa this summer, and also completes the series against India that was cut short last year by Covid, with India 2-1 ahead with one test remaining.
“Before it got announced I was doing this job, I rang them up and said, ‘In my opinion you’re both available for selection,’” Key said of the 35-year-old Broad and the 39-year-old Anderson. “Ben Stokes was very clear on the fact that he wants Jimmy and Broady to come back in. It will purely be done on what’s the best XI to win that first test match.”