England’s star all-rounder Ben Stokes has come out in support of his under-fire Test captain Joe Root, saying he has the full support of the entire English set-up in the dressing room ahead of the Hamilton Test against New Zealand to be played from November 29 (Friday).
The right-hander came under further scrutiny following an innings and 65 runs defeat in the first Test at Mount Maunganui, where England was outplayed by the Black Caps in all departments.
Root is struggling to juggle the twin demands of leading the side and consistent performances, as the 28-year-old averages 39.70 since taking the charge as England’s Test captain in 2017 – that was previously 52.80, though, Stokes insisted that Root is still the right man for the job despite averaging only 27.4 in 10 Tests this year.
The vice-captain further went on to describe the Test captaincy as “one of the most criticized jobs in England” while expressing his sympathy for Root, adding he is “England's best player” and has the 100 percent support of his team-mates and staff.
Stokes told the BBC’s Test Match Special, “The pressures of being England Test captain are huge. It can be one of the most criticized jobs in England at times. Sometimes unfairly, I would say.”
The all-rounder continued, “He's fine. He's Joe Root, he is England captain - there's no one else to do it. He knows he's got the backing of everyone in the changing room, the backroom staff, and management. That's the main thing that counts for us as players. We're a tight-knit group and everyone knows that everyone in that changing room 100 percent backs him, as I do.
There are 11 guys out on the field in a game that contribute to a win or loss. It doesn’t all fall on the captain. We put our hands up as players when we don’t perform as well and unfortunately Joe cops most of that. But as a playing group, we stick together and we hold our hands up together as well.”
Meanwhile, Stokes insisted that the departure of head coach Chris Silverwood, who will return home after day two of the second and final Test in Hamilton after a family bereavement, would not be a distraction for England.
The assistants Graham Thorpe and Paul Collingwood along with Root would take over charges in the absence of Chris for the remainder of the New Zealand tour.
Stokes signed off by saying, “Family always comes first, no matter where you are in the world or what situation the team finds itself in. He asked my opinion and I said: ‘From my point of view, you need to get yourself back home.’ We do all the tactical analysis so, once we get going, the onus will be on the players. Chris going home won't be a distraction to us.”
(With BBC Inputs)