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Stokes takes Root back to No 4 as captain continues to upset England batting order

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England’s Test batting order is set for a second big change after new skipper Ben Stokes revealed the man he replaced as captain, Joe Root, will slip up one spot from the No. 3 to his favorite four.

Stokes confirmed earlier in the week that he would move from No. 5 to No. 6 to give himself the best chance for overall contributions.

Root’s position in the English batting order has been a long-running saga, as he has fluctuated between No. 3 and No. 4 for the past seven years. From No. 4, he had an extraordinary 2021, scoring 1,708 points, the third most in a calendar year.

But, in his final streak as captain, he decided to move up to No. 3 in order to reinforce a higher command. He scored centuries on slow pitches in Antigua and Barbados, before two failures in Granada left England exposed.

Stokes made the decision to reverse that, and Root lined up at No.4 in his first game of the season for Yorkshire at Chelmsford this week.

“I already spoke with Joe. I asked him to come back at four and I will be at six,” Stokes said.

“Wherever Joe bats, he gets runs, but his best position is at four. Joe will probably average 90 now instead of 60 now, so that will be good!

“I feel it at four and me at six gives us some experience in that gap. So you can obviously see where the squares open up for people to raise their hands: it’s three and five.

Exactly who will fill those gaps remains to be seen, and Stokes will have a say at the selection table alongside new GM Rob Key, head scout James Taylor and performance director Mo Bobat. A team should be announced around May 18.

Jonny Bairstow is expected to make the team after scoring two hundred in his last four Tests, but uncapped hitters Harry Brook and Josh Bohannon have put pressure on Dan Lawrence and Ollie Pope, who have played consistently over the two last years.

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Stokes admitted he follows the wider Championship much more closely than he had when he was in the base.

“I now feel like I have to follow a lot more county games now to see who is scoring rather than just checking Durham’s score,” he admitted.

Stokes currently doesn’t have a vice-captain, with Key promising to cross that bridge if necessary. Stokes was Root’s sidekick and expressed his preference for having one, and hinted that a younger player could take on the role to give him leadership experience. Zak Crawley, the outgoing fly-half, would be a candidate if so.

“In terms of vice-captain, I think I was 24, 25 [when first England’s vice-captain] and we have so many players at that kind of age,” he said. “It would be almost foolish not to give them that extra responsibility when we want to see that next generation and give those youngsters the opportunity to perform in an English jumper for long enough.”

In an ideal world, you would have a schedule that allows you to play everything.

Stokes also called on the directors to review the men’s schedule in England. Between his side’s second and third Tests against New Zealand next month, Eoin Morgan will lead an entirely different white ball team in three ODIs against the Netherlands in Amsterdam.

“The calendar is definitely something that needs to be reviewed. It’s ridiculous the amount of cricket people are expected to play,” Stokes said.

“The fact that there is a test match and overlapping one-day series sums it all up. You really have to look at it from a workload perspective. I don’t want to miss England games, I want to play as much as possible for England.

“In an ideal world you would have a schedule which allows you to play everything but unfortunately that is not possible and my number one priority is Test cricket at the moment so I have to prioritize that over the white ball.”


standard Sport

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