Editorial

Can Ben Stokes Captain England Back To Test Cricket Success?

It is fair to say that England’s test cricket side has been through a tough time in recent months. So, with that in mind, the recent departure of Joe Root as captain will not have come as a huge surprise to many.

However, excitement around the international team is building once again, following the news that Ben Stokes has taken over the role. As we have highlighted elsewhere, the cricket star has become England’s 81st test captain in the process.

Memorable moments

Stokes’ move into this significant role makes sense in a range of ways. After all, he was the vice-captain of the side under Root and also has previous experience of captaining the team. In addition, he is a player who has had a host of memorable moments at international level through the years.

Any discussion about Ben Stokes and international test cricket simply would not be complete without a reference to his remarkable efforts at Headingley in 2019. As BBC Sport outlines, his incredible 135 not out against Australia was achieved in very difficult circumstances and the site said it gave England “one of their greatest victories”.

It seems fairly clear that many England fans will be hoping for more of the same during Stokes’ captaincy – and he has certainly stirred up a real sense of expectation. For instance, William Hill is offering a series of Ben Stokes specials in its cricket betting section. They feature odds on several key scenarios, including England winning the Ashes in 2023. The prospect of England remaining undefeated in all test series across 2022 is also covered off, while there are further odds on Stokes scoring a century in his first match as test captain.

Incredible exploits

Considering everything that has been going on in recent weeks, you would forgive Stokes for showing some signs of pressure. However, there has been little evidence of that in his recent play. He was in the headlines recently after some incredible exploits for Durham in the County Championship, as he hit a 64-ball ton. The remarkable effort in his first appearance of the season included a 34-run over that featured five consecutive sixes.

But, how are things looking for his first series as captain of England? Well, as the ECB highlights, it all begins with matches against New Zealand across the month of June and there will no doubt be plenty of interest in how he gets on. The run of games begins at Lord’s in London, with the action then moving on to Trent Bridge in Nottingham. The third test will see Stokes return to the location of his famous moment in 2019 – Headingley Stadium in Leeds.

England’s recent history against New Zealand in tests has not been great. As Howstat explains, the pair last met in England in 2021, with New Zealand drawing a test at Lord’s before moving on to Edgbaston and winning by eight wickets. However, it is important to note that Stokes was not involved in either match, so he may well be keen to ensure that his presence is certainly felt in the upcoming fixtures.

High hopes

Many sports fans would probably agree that Ben Stokes is one of the most exciting cricketers in the world at the moment. However, as captain of the England test team, he now also has a big responsibility to consider.

It will be fascinating to see how his captaincy unfolds and whether he can also replicate some of his scintillating recent play on the international stage. Hopes will undoubtedly be high that he can get off to a good start in the coming weeks.

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