Joe Root: Stokes will make a better Michael Jordan than me

England Test captain Root said that Ben Stokes is more than “well-equipped” to do a really good job as stand-in skipper for the first Test against the Windies.

Joe Root and Ben Stokes

Joe Root has picked Ben Stokes to lead the Test side in his absence.   -  Getty Images

England Test captain Joe Root has thrown his support behind all-rounder Ben Stokes as stand-in skipper, saying he is more than “well-equipped” to do a really good job.

“He trains as hard as anyone else in the squad and he sets the examples. That's a great quality to have. You see some of the other leaders around the world who do exactly that, Virat (Kohli) being one...goes out there, performs and expects everyone else within the team to do the same... I imagine that’s how Ben will go about his business,” said Root during an Facebook live session with Sony Sports India.

Root is set to miss at least one of the three Tests against the West Indies in order to be present for the birth of his second child in July. While former England captains David Gower and Kevin Pietersen have raised concerns that Stokes might be burdened by the additional workload, the talismanic all-rounder had said he was ready to step in for Root should an opportunity present itself. “I’m the Scottie Pippen to Joe’s Michael Jordan,” Stokes wrote in his column for the UK’s Daily Mirror.

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Referencing basketball great Jordan, whose Chicago Bulls team of the 1990s dominated the NBA, Root had a different take. “I think Ben will make a better Michael Jordan than me (laughs)... He leads from the front just like Jordan did as a player. He is already a big leader in the team as vice-captain and it will be an opportunity for him to show everyone the leadership qualities we as a side already know he has... There is a huge amount of respect for him. He has accomplished so much in the game and within Test cricket.”

Saliva ban

England’s players have returned to training – initially on their own and now in small groups – and will convene at the Ageas Bowl where they will take on the West Indies in the first of a three-match Test series behind closed doors starting July 8.

Root said while the saliva ban might favour the batsmen, he allayed concerns that it could lead to a lopsided advantage for the batsmen. “I don’t think it’ll change a huge amount here... It depends on the conditions... If it’s a bit more overcast – there hasn’t been much cricket played – the squares and outfield should be lush. The damage to the Dukes ball doesn’t take effect till about 50 overs... It should swing consistently anyway... They stay harder than the Kookaburra balls and swing consistently longer.

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“I can’t see the saliva ban having as much of an impact at the start of the summer. I think as the summer goes on, if we get good weather and the square becomes a little more abrasive, the reverse swing may play a part. The batsmen will have to be managed well by both sides.”

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