Ben Stokes. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
LONDON: England’s talisman Ben Stokes says captaining his country even just once in his career would be a “huge honour” but admits it was never a massive ambition.
The all-rounder is poised to lead the team in the first Test against West Indies on July 8 with captain Joe Root likely to miss the game to attend the birth of his second child.
“I’ve given it a little thought but not really dived into it yet,” the 29-year-old told a virtual news conference on Monday.
“I mean, it’s not like it’s not a big deal. Getting the opportunity to captain England is a huge honour. Even if it’s only the once, you can say you captained England.
“So it’s something that I’m looking forward to if the opportunity presents itself. But also I know I’m only stepping in to take over the reins because of Joe’s personal situation.”
Stokes has matured since his well-chronicled disciplinary problems and was inspirational as England won the World Cup last year. He is now Root’s trusted vice-captain.
He said the last time he captained a team was during an academy game against Scotland when he was a teenager.
“I never set a goal to want to be a captain,” Stokes said. “If you look at Alastair Cook he was destined to be captain after Andrew Strauss and Joe Root was destined to be captain after Alastair Cook, you know who the next one will be when one is coming towards the end of his career.
“If I’m being honest, I’m not one of those who people would necessarily associate with being next England captain. But I am looking forward to the opportunity of doing it.”
Should Stokes captain the side next week in Southampton — a match being played in a bio-secure stadium without fans because of the COVID-19 pandemic — he says he will be well prepared.
“Being able learn from Cookie and Joe Root in different situations in the game has rubbed off on me and will put me in good stead for all the situations a Test match can throw at you,” he said.
“At the same time we have some experienced guys out on the field I can use like Jimmy (Anderson) and (Stuart Broad) Broady, so many people to throw ideas off.”
Stokes said being captain or not, his style will not change.
“I always try to set the example in terms of commitment and attitude,” he said. “When it comes down to what to do in a situation it will always be a positive route.”