Stokes backs Root in ‘one of most crit­i­cised jobs in Eng­land’

Evening Times - - LAST WORD -

BEN STOKES de­scribed the Test cap­taincy as “one of the most crit­i­cised jobs in Eng­land” as he ex­pressed sym­pa­thy for Joe Root.

While Root has the un­equiv­o­cal back­ing of the Eng­land hi­er­ar­chy, he is strug­gling to jug­gle the twin de­mands of lead­ing the side and con­sis­tently churn­ing out big scores, av­er­ag­ing only 27.4 in 10 Tests this year.

He came un­der fur­ther scru­tiny fol­low­ing the in­nings-and-65-run de­feat against New Zealand in the first Test at Mount Maun­ganui, where Eng­land slid to an eighth loss in 14 over­seas Tests un­der the York­shire­man. How­ever, vice­cap­tain Stokes is adamant Root should not be the light­ning rod for op­pro­brium, in­sist­ing: “The pres­sures of be­ing Eng­land Test cap­tain are huge.

“It can be one of the most crit­i­cised jobs in Eng­land at times. Some­times un­fairly, I would say.

“There are 11 guys out on the field in a game that con­trib­ute to a win or loss. It doesn’t all fall on the cap­tain. We put our hands up as play­ers when we don’t per­form as well and un­for­tu­nately Joe cops most of that, but as a play­ing group, we stick to­gether and we hold our hands up to­gether as well.”

Eng­land’s prepa­ra­tions for the sec­ond Test at Hamil­ton, which gets un­der way to­mor­row, took a set­back with the news head coach Chris Sil­ver­wood will fly home after day two fol­low­ing a fam­ily be­reave­ment.

As­sis­tant coaches Gra­ham

Thorpe and Paul Colling­wood will take charge of the team along­side Root for the re­main­der of the trip be­fore Eng­land leave New Zealand next Wed­nes­day.

Stokes backed Sil­ver­wood’s de­ci­sion and the all-rounder re­vealed he had some in­put, adding: “Fam­ily al­ways comes first, no mat­ter where you are in the world.

“[Sil­ver­wood] asked my opin­ion per­son­ally and I just said ‘from my point of view you need to get your­self back home.’”

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