The Ashes: Ben Stokes dismisses captaincy speculation and backs Joe Root and Chris Silverwood to continue in their roles with England

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The Ashes
Source: Skysports

The Ashes: Following England’s Ashes defeat to Australia, Ben Stokes has removed himself from the post of captain, claiming that Joe Root and head coach Chris Silverwood have the team’s complete backing.

When Root takes the side out in Sydney on Wednesday, he will become the country’s longest-serving Test captain, surpassing Sir Alastair Cook’s previous mark of 59 matches.

However, any pride in that achievement will be tempered by the knowledge that he has recently overseen an unsuccessful Ashes campaign for the third time.

He now finds his side 3-0 behind and seeking to avoid a whitewash after a 4-0 loss in 2017/18 and a 2-2 draw at home in 2019.

It would scarcely be considered a bold decision if Root or his bosses thought it was time for a change after four and a half years on the job.

Neither party has indicated that they are about to make such a move, and vice-captain Stokes, by all accounts the only obvious candidate, has removed himself from any discussion of succession planning.

He had already captained the Test squad in a losing cause against the West Indies while Root was expecting his second child, but he has no desire to do it again.

In response to the rumours, he stated, “I’ve never really had the ambition to be a captain.”

“Captaincy entails more than laying up the fields, selecting the team, and making judgments in the middle.” A captain is someone for whom you desire to play. I’ve always wanted to play for Joe Root.

“It’s all Joe’s choice.” He should not be compelled to do it. Cooky, I’m sure, felt the same way. He did that for a long time, and when he realised his time was up, he stopped. Those conversations haven’t made it near Joe yet.

“I don’t get that vibe from Joe.” He’s taken this group a long way. He’s accomplished a lot. This series has obviously not gone well, not from a captaincy standpoint, but from a team and outcomes standpoint.”

Stokes also used his enormous clout to solidify Chris Silverwood’s position as head coach. When the post-mortem is finished, there’s a sense that he’ll be a more likely fall guy than Root, but Stokes went out of his way to refute that narrative.

“Unfortunately, the captain and coach are held accountable for the (results), but there are ten other players on the pitch,” he remarked.

“It’s the role of the media to ask, ‘Should people stand down?'” The most important people’s opinions, at the end of the day, are those of the boys in the dressing room, and they have our full support.

“Exactly the same, Chris Silverwood.” He is a genuine player’s coach. He fights for you as people and as players. It’s your job to write about all the current media buzz about their prospects, but they know they have the support of everyone in there, and that’s all that matters.”

Who will take their place if Root and Silverwood leave?

England’s darkest year was Joe Root’s golden year.

In 2021, the England captain was exceptional with the bat, scoring 1,708 runs at a strike rate of 61, but the rest of his side was not, which is one of the main reasons they suffered a record nine five-day defeats, matching Bangladesh’s tally from 2003.

Root scored 1,178 runs more than Rory Burns, the next best scorer (530). The fact that ‘extras’ was England’s third-highest run-getter provides a sobering glimpse into their batting troubles. They also set a new record by catching 54 Test ducks, tying their previous high of noughts set in 1998.

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