All-rounder Ben Stokes considers himself to be the Scottie Pippen to Joe Root’s Michael Jordan as he is likely to lead England during the first Test against the West Indies in the regular skipper’s absence.
Root is a doubtful starter for the first Test in July as he will be required to undergo seven days of self-isolation after attending the birth of his second child.
The first game of the three-Test series begins at the Ageas Bowl from July 8 and Root’s wife is due around the same time.
“There is a chance our skipper Joe Root may miss a Test this summer because he and his wife are expecting their second child. That would mean me as vice-captain having to step up,” Stokes wrote in a column for The Daily Mirror.
“I’m the Scottie Pippen to Joe’s Michael Jordan. It is his team,” he added referring to basketball great Jordan and his Chicago Bulls teammate Pippen, who won six NBA titles together and were the subject of a recent popular Netflix docu-series The Last Dance.
Root had earlier backed Stokes for the role, saying he will be a “fantastic captain.”
Stokes said he understands Root’s vision, but he will make his own calls during the match.
“What would be the point of asking me to do the job if not for this kind of situation?
“I understand where Joe is taking the team and how he wants to lead it. So although I’ll make my own calls on the field and do the job as I see it as the game evolves, everything else will very much be the same as when Joe is there,” said Stokes.
The England-West Indies Test rubber is likely to resume international cricket that was shutdown worldwide due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Stokes said it was mentally challenging to maintaining motivation during the lockdown.
“... I’m glad there is a Test series to get ready for... Even though I’ve been training hard physically and kept in good shape, the lockdown hasn’t been plain sailing. Throughout this full 13 weeks, I’ve gone through lots of emotions – some good, some not so good.
“My motivation has gone up and down and there have been times when it has been really hard to even think about playing. I’ve had periods where I’ve gone for days without doing a thing because I’ve thought, ‘What’s the point?’” he said.
The England cricketers were the first to resume training after the coronavirus-forced hiatus and Stokes said initially that he found it difficult to face Mark Wood in the nets, but he is looking to peaking in time ahead of the opening Test.
“I know that cricket is nearly there and I cannot wait to get back out there and have the first – possibly socially distanced – huddle on the field when it is just the 11 of you going into the game together,” said Stokes.
“Getting properly Test match-ready is going to take a bit of time and that is what our camp at the Ageas Bowl will be for.
“But I don’t want to be good to go when I rock up there. I want to have a few things still to work on to get up to full speed. I have learnt from experience that the time to peak is a day or two before a Test match, not three weeks out.”
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