LONDON: Star all-rounder Ben Stokes has a “smart cricket brain” and is the “obvious” choice to take over as England Test captain following the exit of Joe Root, according to former captains Michael Vaughan and Nasser Hussain.
Root on Friday stepped down from captaincy, ending his five-year tenure after facing criticism following England’s 0-4 Ashes defeat against Australia and 0-1 series loss to West Indies.
“I don’t see anyone else who could take the position and be guaranteed of their place in the side,” Vaughan told the BBC.
“In Ben Stokes, you have clearly got someone who has got a smart cricket brain, he’s going to give it everything, he is certainly going to have the respect of the players around him.”
Hussain, who led England from 1999-2003, also backed Stokes to take over as Test captain.
“For me the obvious candidate is Ben Stokes. (He) Stokes has done some phenomenal things as a cricketer and has a very smart cricket brain. He showed that in World Cup final, he showed that at Headingley…He showed that when he’s taken over occasionally from Joe Root,” Hussain was quoted as saying in skysports.com.
“People say, ‘Oh, Ben Stokes’, do you know what happened to Flintoff and Botham? Ben Stokes is not Flintoff and he’s not Botham, don’t judge him by how other people have done.”
Stokes had taken a break from cricket last year to focus on mental well-being and Hussain feels it is important that he is in the right place mentally as captaincy can take a toll.
“The difficult thing for Stokes is the point I made about the toll it takes on you as a captain. You have to be in the right place mentally and physically,” he said.
Hussain, however, said Stuart Broad could also be an option in case Stokes is not up for it.
“If Stokes is not in the right place, then short-term Stuart Broad has an excellent cricket brain, is a real fighter, a real competitor, and he’s got a point to prove after what’s happened in the last few months and we know what Broad is like when he’s got a point to prove.
“Pat Cummins has led Australia as a bowler brilliantly, so in the short term, I can see Broad doing a similar thing.”
Another former captain Michael Atherton, who led England from 1993 to 1998, also picked Stokes for the top job.