Ben Stokes (right) insists he has no desire to succeed Joe Root as England Test captain. Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AP
Ben Stokes (right) insists he has no desire to succeed Joe Root as England Test captain. Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AP

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Joe Root said on Monday that he has “questions to answer” and will assess his future as England captain after the losing Ashes 2021/22 tour, as all-rounder Ben Stokes insisted he has no ambition to take over.

Joe Root will become his country’s longest-serving Test skipper at the fourth Test in Sydney on Wednesday, surpassing predecessor Alastair Cook’s 59 matches in charge. But he is under pressure after three consecutive heavy defeats to Australia with some pundits, including Ricky Ponting and Geoff Boycott, scathing about his captaincy.

Joe Root. File Photo
Joe Root. File Photo

Ben Stokes backs Joe Root:

Ben Stokes has thrown his full support behind Joe Root and Chris Silverwood, insisting any blame for England’s Ashes defeat should be shared around the tour party. The all-rounder has also stated that he has no designs on the Test captaincy himself.

England’s Ashes campaign stooped to a new low in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne as Australia bundled them out for 68 in the second innings. An innings and 14-run defeat at the MCG followed after heavy losses in Brisbane and Adelaide. With only two games to go, the visitors have a chance to restore some of their pride.

“Obviously it’s been very challenging and we’ve had a lot to deal with, not just on the field but off it, and we are just trying to manage it as best we can,” the 31-year-old Joe Root said of the calamitous tour.

Michael Atherton Image Source : GETTY IMAGES
Michael Atherton Image Source: GETTY IMAGES

“I’ll look at my future beyond this tour at the end of it,” he added.

“I think there are questions for me to answer. I don’t think, as a distraction around the group, it should be something I’m wasting energy on now. I need to make sure I throw everything I can into these next two games. I owe that to this team and the players. That will give us the best chance of getting the results that we desire.”

There are few obvious candidates to replace him with vice-captain Ben Stokes at the top of the pile, a move championed by former captain Mike Atherton, among others. Despite the discussions and debates on his captaincy, Joe Root intends to continue as skipper. As a batsman, the right-handed batter has amassed the most Test runs in 2021, accumulating 1708 runs at 61 with six tons.

Ben Stokes Always Want To Play For Skipper Joe Root As Michael Atherton Beives Joe Root’s Time Is Up

But the 30-year-old star all-rounder said that he was not interested and backed Joe Root instead.

“I’ve never really had the ambition to be a captain,” he was quoted as saying.

“Captaincy is more than about setting fields, picking the team, making decisions out there in the middle. A captain is someone you want to go out and play for. Joe Root is someone I always want to play for.”

Ben Stokes, Joe Root ECB Twitter
Ben Stokes, Joe Root ECB Twitter

Ben Stokes has led England once previously, a Test defeat by West Indies in 2020 when Joe Root was on paternity leave. Michael Atherton is among those who believe Joe Root’s time is almost up and that Ben Stokes could do the job instead.

“Root has been a good England captain and has always carried himself superbly and is an incredible ambassador for the sport,” he wrote in his column.

“But having done the job for five years and having had three cracks at the Ashes, including two awful campaigns in Australia, it is time for someone else to have a go.”

However, Ben Stokes said he doesn’t believe Joe Root is ready to give up the role.

“I don’t sense that at all with Joe,” he said. “He’s brought this team a long way. He’s done some great things. Obviously, this series hasn’t gone too well, not from a captaincy point of view but from a team and results point of view. It’s totally Joe’s decision,” he added.

Ben Stokes also backed beleaguered coach Chris Silverwood, who will miss the Sydney Test because one of his family members tested Covid-19 positive.

“All the hype in the media recently about their futures, it’s your job to write that, but they know full well they have the support of everyone in there and that’s all that matters,” Stokes said.

But while Joe Root has now overseen 59 Tests, the point where a jaded Alastair Cook ended his record stint in charge in early 2017, Ben Stokes is not expecting a similar outcome yet. England’s Ashes 2021/22 campaign went from bad to worse in the first three Tests as they conceded the urn, with Australia already having an unassailable lead of 3-0.