Ben Stokes ready to lead England

Ben Stokes says the off-field issues that have occurred during his career will help him as England Test captain.

The 30-year-old was speaking at his unveiling as skipper, having been named Joe Root’s successor last week.

In 2018 Stokes was found not guilty of affray after a fight outside a Bristol nightclub, while last year he took a break to protect his mental health.

“Those experiences are a positive in this new role I have got,” the all-rounder told BBC Sport.

“I have been through a lot of good and bad and feel I can relate to both sides of what sport and life can throw at you.”

Stokes also had time off from England duty in 2020 as he took compassionate leave to spend time with his father Ged, who had been diagnosed with brain cancer, and died later that year.

Having resumed playing, Stokes announced in July 2021 he was taking an indefinite break, returning to action in December for the Ashes against Australia.

“I can relate to people whether that be good or bad or on the field or off the field,” added Stokes, who also spoke about comparisons with Andrew Flintoff and Lord Botham, his plans for the Test side and the vacant head coach and vice-captain positions.

“I don’t see anything I have gone through as a negative, if anything I see it as a way I can always try and help people.”

Root stepped down amid a difficult period for England’s Test team after a run of one win in 17 Tests.

The suitability of Stokes, who said he had never held ambitions to become captain, as his replacement was questioned by some because of an already heavy workload and the difficult tenures of two previous England all-rounder captains in Flintoff and Botham.

“One thing I have always had to deal with since I was 18 or 19 is comparisons to Andrew and Sir Ian Botham,” Stokes said.

“I have always said I am not trying to be Andrew or Ian Botham, I am Ben Stokes.”

Stokes said as a captain he would lean on senior players for advice and admitted he would require the right people around him to “take pressure off my shoulders”.

Stokes confirmed bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad would be available for selection for his first Test as captain against New Zealand on 2 June after the veteran pair, England’s two all-time leading wicket-takers, were left out of the recent tour of West Indies.

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