Mahela backs Stokes’ claim as Test captain

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Former Sri Lanka great Mahela Jayawardene believes star all-rounder Ben Stokes will be a ‘brilliant’ Test captain for England if he improves his performances in red-ball cricket.

Stokes is likely to be formally introduced as England’s new Test skipper in the near future, with the upcoming home series against New Zealand and India in June.

“I think he (Stokes) will be a brilliant captain. He has been around for a while and shown again and again that he is a brilliant competitor, and he is a different beast altogether when he is on the field. England haven’t seen an all-rounder captaining their Test team for a long time and I think he is the ideal candidate. Having his type of character (as captain) might create a culture which they have had with white-ball cricket recently, but now need to find that same kind of culture with red ball cricket,” Mahlea Jayawardene said on the ICC review.

Jayawardene expects to see Root bounce back to form now the extra burden of the captaincy has been lifted, and the Sri Lankan is predicting the 31-year-old can flourish with the bat almost immediately.

 “Joe has been batting incredibly for the last three or four years and he will continue to flourish, there is no doubt about that. I think he felt it was the best chance for everyone (relinquishing the captaincy) and I think he is going to benefit from that as he can just concentrate on his batting. Knowing the competitor he is, he would have been disappointed if he had to make that call (stand down), but in the long run, I think he will definitely benefit from that,” he added.

Stokes will have plenty on his plate to sort out if he does land the top job with the immediate futures of experienced stalwarts James Anderson and Stuart Broad expected to be high on his list.

(Agencies)