England cricket captain Joe Root has backed Ben Stokes to skipper the side in his absence, should he miss any of the games against the West Indies this summer due to the birth of his second child.
Root’s wife is expected to give birth at the start of July. Root intends to be at the birth come what may, though the situation is complicated by the current Civd-19 pandemic.
The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) recently confirmed the venues and the dates for the three-match Test series against the Windies.
Although the venues and dates still remain subject to government clearance, England should face the tourists at the AGEAS Bowl in Southampton from July 8.
The Second and Third Tests will then be played at Old Trafford, Manchester, from July 16 and 24 respectively.
Those two grounds have been selected because they suit the logistical arrangements that have to be made in order to keep players and other staff safe from Covd-19.
Both grounds have on-site hotels that make keeping the players and staff quarantined a relatively simple process.
England’s medical team are still in the process of drawing up protocols that would allow players to leave and re-enter the ground, however.
That is the issue that could give Root problems when it comes to attending the birth of his child.
The skipper may have to rule him out of a Test in advance, as it is looking unlikely that he will be able to leave and then rejoin a match that is in progress.
Stokes is the team’s current vice-captain. Although he has had some disciplinary issues in the past, Root believes that the all-rounder is a more than capable deputy who can step up into the senior role should the situation demand it.
“I could see him doing a very good job,” Root said.
“One of his great qualities as vice-captain and as a leader is he sets the example. The way he goes about training, how he wants to bowl in difficult circumstances, the way he stands up in different scenarios with the bat – he drags people with him.”
Root is unlikely to sanction any kind of permanent Stokes captaincy at the moment, given the Sheffielder’s determination to win the Ashes in 2020/21.
England last played the West Indies for the Wisden Trophy in the Caribbean last year, and suffered a 2-1 series reversal.
Their 25-man squad arrives in the UK on Monday. Following arrival, they will head into a 14-day quarantined training camp at Old Trafford.
Root acknowledged that the specific circumstances of this series, with the matches being played behind closed doors, will make it a slightly strange experience.
“This time of year, in normal circumstances, is extremely exciting,” said Root.
“The build-up to the first Test is always very special. It will be very different. It’s hard to know what to expect, what it’ll feel like when we play in empty stadiums.”