Stokes dismisses England captaincy talk

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  • Ben Stokes
    Ben Stokes
    Cricketer (born 1991)
  • Joe Root
    Joe Root
    English cricketer (born 1990)

Ben Stokes has thrown his support behind Joe Root's England captaincy, claiming that he has no aspirations to replace him in the top job.

When Root leads the side out in Sydney on Wednesday he will become the longest-serving Test captain in England's history, overtaking predecessor Sir Alastair Cook's previous record of 59 matches.

But any sense of pride in that achievement will be tempered by the fact that, for the third time, he has led an unsuccessful Ashes campaign.

After a 4-0 defeat in 2017-18 and a 2-2 draw at home in 2019, he now finds his side 3-0 down and hoping simply to avert a whitewash.

After four-and-a-half years in the job, it would hardly be classed as a radical move if either Root or his employers decided it was time for a change.

Neither party has given any indication that they are about to pull the trigger on such a move and now vice-captain Stokes - by any reckoning the only obvious replacement - has distanced himself from any talk of succession planning.

Stokes, who has led the Test team once before in a defeat against the West Indies, does not covet the role.

"I've never really had an ambition to be a captain," he said.

"A captain is someone you want to go out and play for. Joe Root is someone I always want to play for.

"It's totally Joe's decision. He shouldn't be forced into doing it. I'm sure Cooky felt the same way. He did it for so long and when he knew his time was up, his time was up. Those discussions haven't entered anywhere near Joe yet.

"I don't sense that at all with Joe. He's brought this team a long way. He's done some great things. Obviously, this series hasn't gone too well - not from a captaincy point of view, but from a team and results point of view."

Stokes also backed head coach Chris Silverwood, saying: "He's a real players' coach. He stands up for you as individuals and players as well."

"They (Silverwood and root) know full well they have the support of everyone in there and that's all that matters."

Stokes described his own performances in Australia as "pretty average".

But the most memorable moment of the tour for him came on the second evening in Melbourne as England slumped to 4-31 after just 12 overs amid some electric bowling.

"Even I was watching that going, 'I don't know what I would do to counteract that'. That was some of the highest quality bowling I think I've seen in a Test match," said Stokes, who had been marvelling at the Aussie assault from the pavilion before having a late visit to the crease.

"I don't think I've ever been booed by 49,000 people when I walked out. It's the first time I've actually been taken aback by an atmosphere in a ground.

"Although we were on the receiving end of that, it was pretty special to feel that at the MCG."

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