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Ian Botham gives verdict on Ben Stokes replacing Joe Root as England Test captain

  • May 13, 2022
Ian Botham says Ben Stokes was the ‘only choice’ to replace Joe Root (Pictures: Getty)

Ian Botham has backed the appointment of Ben Stokes as England Test captain but admits the all-rounder was the ‘only option’ to replace Joe Root.

Following a run of just one win in 17 Tests, Root resigned as Test skipper last month and was succeeded by close friend and vice-captain Stokes.

Given England’s red-ball struggles and the uncertainty over a number of players in the team, Stokes was virtually the only realistic candidate to take over from Root.

Unlike several of his teammates, Stokes is guaranteed a place in the side when fit and stood in for Root in a Test match against West Indies in 2020 when the Yorkshireman was on paternity leave.

Legendary all-rounder Botham, who captained England for 12 Tests in the early 1980s, told the Daily Mail: ‘Ben Stokes was the only choice.

‘He will do very well as England captain but the thing you have to remember is that cricket is not all about individuals. It is about the team.’

As a brilliant all-rounder and captivating cricketer, Stokes has been compared to Botham throughout his career.

He will hope to enjoy a more successful stint as England captain, however, with Botham losing eight of his 12 Tests in charge of the side.

Another former all-rounder, Andrew Flintoff, also endured a difficult time as England captain but Stokes is not concerned he will follow in the footsteps of the ex-players.

‘One thing I have always had to deal with since I was 18 or 19 is comparisons to Andrew and Sir Ian Botham,’ Stokes said last week.

‘I have always said I am not trying to be Freddie or Ian Botham, I am Ben Stokes.’

Stokes’ first game in charge will be against New Zealand at Lord’s on June 2, the first game in a three-Test series against the Black Caps, who are world champions in this format.

Stokes was unveiled as England’s new Test captain last week (Picture: Getty)

Newly-appointed managing director of England men’s cricket Rob Key is ‘optimistic’ that a new head coach will be in place for the first Test, with Paul Collingwood taking charge of the side on a temporary basis in the recent series against West Indies following the sacking of Chris Silverwood.

But former England captain Michael Atherton says it will not be a huge issue if Stokes is given the chance to mould the team in the absence of a new coach.

‘Ben Stokes will be his own man; he has got a chance to shape that team now and take it in a different direction,’ Atherton told Sky Sports.

‘There may not be a coach in place in time. These things go through a process; I think May 6 is when job applications close and June 2 is the first Test match. That’s quite tight.

‘That’s not a bad thing in my view. I don’t think since Sir Andrew Strauss that an England captain has really grabbed hold of a dressing room.’

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Article source: https://metro.co.uk/2022/05/05/cricket-england-legend-ian-botham-reacts-ben-stokes-joe-root-test-captain-16593586/

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