Ben Stokes was the right choice to become England’s new Test captain. As Rob Key, the director of cricket, said on Thursday, he wasn’t the only choice… he was the best one.
A few people have pointed out that two other great all-rounders didn’t work out as England captain. But don’t judge Stokes by how Ian Botham or Freddie Flintoff got on.
And while we are talking about all-rounders, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan and Shaun Pollock all captained their countries with distinction.
A few others seem worried that you should not burden one of your best players with the job. Well, Joe Root has been England’s best batter for years, and it didn’t hinder his run-scoring.
Virat Kohli took India to the top of the Test rankings. Australians Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh were in charge of two of the greatest teams of all time.
The point is that Ben is his own man. He’s driven, he’s got a good cricket brain and he’s been vice-captain. He’s passionate and caring. Why wouldn’t you make him captain? There are no guarantees, of course.
Ben will have to use his gut, and my only advice is that he shouldn’t be captain by committee. Sometimes with Root, there was too much input from those off the field, so he never found a gut feel for tactics.
If anything, Stokes should try to keep things simple. Now he’s in charge, the wins and losses go against his name. Turn up to the game, look at the pitch and pick your best XI for the conditions in front of you. England have moved away from that.
He has also been around long enough to know that, when you are captain, the perfect day rarely exists. Either you have not scored many runs or taken any wickets, or the team are struggling.
I hope he plays a blinder and England’s Test fortunes get back on the right track. But I think he has the right perspective to deal with whatever setbacks lie ahead — and there are always setbacks.
Clearly, his workload will need managing. Key has to work out what, in golf terms, are his majors. For a team who have won just one out of 17 and is bottom of the World Test Championship, stringing together some victories is the No 1 priority.
Then Stokes has to find out from Eoin Morgan whether he is in his plans for the T20 World Cup in Australia later in the year. I can see him being rested from some bilateral 50-over games, or playing purely as a batter.
Whatever happens, if he needs resting — and Stokes will have to be honest with Key and the selectors — then England should pay attention.
There is no point bowling himself into the ground, which then affects the balance of the team. He should be England’s fifth bowler, no more.
Above all, I think he is an uplifting choice. Good luck, Ben — and make sure you do it your way.
Note: This article is written by Nasser Hussain and has been published at Daily Mail UK