Vaughan’s advice to ‘selfless’ Stokes
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.