‘He has the ability, the cricketing knowledge and nous to do the job admirably’: Ben Stokes’ dad Ged backs his lad to shine as England captain
- Ben Stokes is stepping up with Joe Root taking time to be with his family
- Root’s wife Carrie is due to give birth later this week and he needs to be isolated
- This means Stokes will replace him to lead out England at the Ageas Bowl
Ged Stokes does not hesitate when considering the prospect of watching son Ben lead out England in the first Test of the 2020 summer versus West Indies.
‘It will be a very proud moment in our lives when he does that. It has been tremendous for him to forge the career he has had, now to be England captain is something that you wouldn’t dream of in your wildest ones,’ the father of the 29-year-old told Sportsmail, speaking from his home in Christchurch.
‘But it’s a natural progression in some respects. He’s been in a team leadership role for quite some time now and he has had some very good captains over his time, so I am sure he will take pages out of their books and apply some of them.’
Ben Stokes with dad Ged and mum Deb after winning the 2018 Test series against India
Joe Root will miss the opening match of three at the Ageas Bowl next Wednesday to be at the birth of his second child, leading to the promotion of vice-captain Stokes and prompting his dad to take to Maori vernacular to reflect the fact he is ‘to become of high rank’.
‘Over here, we call his position rangatira,’ Stokes senior explained, joking ‘it might be time for another tattoo,’ in reference to the tapestry of inkings that adorn the England all-rounder’s body. Currently complementing New Zealand’s silver fern and Maori art work, which honour his heritage, are his England Test, one-day and T20 numbers.
‘England are not now being captained by a Kiwi, that’s not the attitude people should take, they are being captained by a very proud England cricketer,’ said a man who represented the New Zealand rugby league team on four occasions in Australia in 1982.
Ben Stokes will captain England in place of Joe Root for the first Test against the West Indies
Not that the allegiance is always easy for patriotic parents who have become accustomed to viewing Stokes’ increasingly extraordinary array of feats on a cricket field from the other side of the world.
‘The majority of times we see Ben now is on television, wielding a bat or bowling, and this will add another element to the sensation. Watching him from here is like being there live for us because you still have the same feelings of wanting him and the team to do well,’ the 65-year-old, who continues to recover from the illness that caused him to be hospitalised in Johannesburg during England’s tour of South Africa last winter, continued.
‘The camera will no doubt be on him a bit more and there will be a lot of people having an opinion, of course, but hopefully he does well. He has the ability and the cricketing knowledge and nous to be able to handle the job admirably.
Joe Root will be with his wife Carrie for the birth of their second child later this week
‘I think he will develop his own leadership style and have his own way of handling players. Man management is really important and he has developed a really good relationship with most of the players in that squad.
‘A lot of people say that captaincy is a burden and it can have a negative effect on personal performance but for Ben I don’t think it will. He’s smart enough to separate the two things.’
And Stokes is clearly a player who thrives on responsibility if his Herculean efforts during 2019 are anything to go by. First, there was the never-say-die performance that broke the hearts of the country of his birth in the World Cup final at Lord’s. Followed by the unbeaten Ashes hundred in the modern miracle of Headingley, an innings that his mother Deb says she has replayed ‘at least 80 times.’
Time for another chapter in the career of England’s most effervescent cricketer.
It will be the first time that Stokes has captained the Test team when play starts next week