Ben Stokes named captain for first Test against West Indies
Ben Stokes will assume the captaincy role for the first time in his career in Joe Root's absence during the opening Test against West Indies starting July 8.
Root, who is England's permanent red-ball skipper, will not be available for the momentous clash that marks the return of international cricket after a long hiatus lasting almost four months.
The 29-year-old will leave his side's training camp at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday to spend time with his pregnant wife, who is due to give birth to the couple's second child later this week.
According to the ECB media release, Root is expected to link up with the England squad ahead of the second Test on July 13 and will have to undergo a one-week isolation period at home once he leaves the hospital.
Stokes' promotion to the leadership position comes in the wake of strong backing from Root as the top-order batsman praised his deputy's ability to set an example with his passion and charismatic character on the field.
Stokes has arguably been his side's most valuable player over the past year as he played a pivotal role in their maiden World Cup triumph and struck an epic century in England's astonishing one-wicket win against Australia in the third Ashes Test at Headingley.
He was eventually bestowed with the ICC Player of the Year award with his exceptional all-round skills recognised by the panel of experts.
Looking forward to the captaincy job, Stokes expressed his excitement in a virtual press conference on Monday.
"Even if it's only the once you can still say 'yeah, I've captained England'," the 29-year-old said.
Stokes' vice-captaincy was restored last July, nearly a year after being found not guilty of affray following his involvement in a public brawl outside a nightclub.
"After that happened it was 'right, what am I going to do from this point forward?," he told Sky in a separate interview recently. "How am I going to carry and conduct myself?'
"I'm quite proud to say I'm in this situation through hard work and determination. I wanted to get better and it's been no fluke."
Stokes will be assisted in his captaincy debut with wicketkeeper Jos Buttler appointed the vice-captain for the upcoming Test. The pair will be leading each of the two sides in a three-day intra-squad practice match before the first Test.
Buttler's presence in England's Test set-up was doubted following a string of failures across the winter but he has managed to secure his slot in the lower middle-order.
The vacuum created by Root's unavailability in the playing XI offers the likes of Joe Denly or Zak Crawley to cement their spot in the team.