Tuesday 11 August, 2020

Root tells stand-in skipper Stokes to 'do it your way'

Ben Stokes, England's captain for the first Test against West Indies.

Ben Stokes, England's captain for the first Test against West Indies.

Ben Stokes revealed that Joe Root left him a message telling the stand-in England captain to "do it your way" in the first Test against West Indies at the Rose Bowl.

Stokes will lead his country for the first time when the three-match series starts in Southampton on Wednesday, with Root absent as his wife is due to give birth to their second child.

The all-rounder will be open to advice from his team-mates and welcomed input from Root.

"The best message that I've received was when I got my photos done yesterday with the blazer," Stokes said on Tuesday. "Rooty just left a message on the hanger which said: 'do it your way.'

"When I first got asked I said I'd be open to opinions. Just because Joe's not here, that doesn't mean I'm not going to use him.

"Joe's always been very open and willing [to take] to advice from players, so I think I'd be stupid to go away from that. 

"We've got so much experience in this team that it would be silly not to lean on that if I feel like I need some advice."

Stokes added: "With Joe and his personal situation it's been a case of letting him deal with that

"I haven't been on him too much but I'm sure once the Test match starts, I know he'll be at home watching and I know that his phone will always be available for me to get in contact with him if I need to."

The tourists were 2-1 winners when the two nations did battle in the Caribbean last year, but both have a new head coach and Stokes believes England are a different proposition now.

"I think there's a lot more clarity with everybody," he said. "We have an identity as a Test team.

"Whereas in times gone past, a few lads might have felt under pressure with guys knocking the door down in a negative way, now we look at that in a positive way where there's competition for places in the team.

"If you're not performing well as a player, there's someone right behind you ready to come in. That's a great place to be in, especially as an international side.

"We have an identity now as a Test team. For us going forward, it's about building on that identity.

"We have a goal of becoming the best team in the world so we're building towards that."

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