Vaughan’s ad­vice to ‘self­less’ Stokes

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport -

My ad­vice to Ben Stokes is to re­mem­ber he is a player first and a cap­tain sec­ond. It is very easy to for­get your role in the team as cap­tain. You spend so much time think­ing about the game and how it will pan out. Hav­ing an idea of what you want the first hour to look like is im­por­tant, par­tic­u­larly when you field first, but Stokes (be­low) mainly has to re­mem­ber the im­pact he has in all dis­ci­plines of the game.

With the bat he is Eng­land’s best reader of the game when it comes to match­ing an in­nings to a sit­u­a­tion. That does not change as a cap­tain. With the ball, he has to re­mem­ber he is an im­pact bowler. It might be that he has to lean on a cou­ple of se­nior pros to ad­vise him when to bowl. It might be that Jos But­tler is the best per­son to tell him when to come on and when to go off be­cause the fear with an all-rounder as cap­tain is they bowl them­selves too much or not enough.

Where he fields will also be im­por­tant. Look at the run-outs and catches he has taken down the years. He is the en­gine of the team in the field with his body lan­guage and the way he runs, chases and dives around. That has to con­tinue as a cap­tain. I do not want him hid­ing at mid-on and mid-off be­cause he is cap­tain with re­spon­si­bil­ity for mak­ing de­ci­sions.

The hard­est el­e­ment of the cap­taincy is know­ing when to speak and when to stay silent. It is about know­ing when the team need your guid­ance. The best ad­vice I can give him is you will be sur­prised by how lit­tle guid­ance the team ac­tu­ally need.

I al­ways thought big team speeches were over­rated. Some peo­ple speak to the group to be heard and be seen. They think it shows ev­ery­one “I am the cap­tain”. But I would ad­vise Stokes to pick his mo­ment. Some­times it is better to let some­one else ad­dress the group.

I al­ways thought the in­di­vid­ual one-to-one chat was the way to go. If you get the best out of in­di­vid­u­als then the team will look af­ter them­selves.

Get your­self right first and then man­age the other 10 play­ers. If you do that, you have a great chance of the team com­ing to­gether.

There have been only 695 English Test crick­eters and just 81 cap­tains. Very few peo­ple have had the hon­our, so he is part of an exclusive group now.

The pes­simists say it is too much for him and it did not work for An­drew Flintoff and Sir Ian Botham. Yes, all three are all­rounders, but they are com­pletely dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters. If any­thing, all-rounders should make the best cap­tains. They know the body and thought pro­cesses of bowl­ing and bat­ting, so should un­der­stand both as­pects of the game. Of course, the worry is they are tak­ing on too much re­spon­si­bil­ity, but if there was ever an era to be an all­rounder and cap­tain then this is it, given the plethora of back­room staff they have th­ese days. It is not like cap­tains have to or­gan­ise nets or so­cial func­tions any more. You just have to play cricket.

Look at Ja­son Holder. He is a fine cap­tain and leader and is the world’s No1 all-rounder as well. Im­ran Khan won the World Cup for Pak­istan as an all-rounder.

There is more me­dia scru­tiny on the cap­tain com­pared to the nor­mal player, but Stokes lives his life un­der a lens any­way, so is used to that.

When some­one such as Alastair Cook de­scribes Stokes as the most self­less crick­eter he ever played with, it tells you that Joe Root is hand­ing the cap­taincy to some­one who is not go­ing to try to un­der­mine him and think he should be the cap­tain long term. He is the ideal vice-cap­tain to step in.

I would back Stokes to do any­thing suc­cess­fully in cricket af­ter see­ing what he de­liv­ered last sum­mer. It would not sur­prise me if he be­came an out­stand­ing cap­tain. I ex­pect him to take it in his stride.

He is the kind of crick­eter who re­acts to the game in front of him with­out over­com­pli­cat­ing things or stick­ing doggedly to pre­con­ceived plans. I de­scribe him as the kind of crick­eter who uses his eyes. He adapts and re­acts.

He has an out­stand­ing cricket brain. You do not win Eng­land a World Cup fi­nal or play the kind of in­nings he did at Head­in­g­ley last year with­out hav­ing an out­stand­ing cricket brain. It also helps your cap­taincy if you can bat and bowl like Stokes. He has all the at­tributes.

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