England’s newly appointed Test skipper Ben Stokes has revealed that former captain Joe Root will return to his number four position during the upcoming Test series against New Zealand.
“I’ve already spoken with Joe. I’ve asked him to go back to four and I’m going to be at six,” Stokes was quoted as saying by icc-cricket.com.
Stokes plans to bat himself at six and is hoping that prospective players that harbour aspirations of batting in England’s recently frail top and middle-order will give him plenty to ponder by scoring a bulk of runs at the county level ahead of the first Test of the summer against the Kiwis at Lord’s on June 2.
“I now feel I have to follow a lot more of the county games now to see who is scoring runs rather than just checking the Durham score,” Stokes said.
“Wherever Joe bats he gets runs, but his best position is at four. Joe will probably be averaging 90 now instead of 60 (Root’s average in 2021), so it’ll be good. I feel him at four and me at six gives us a bit of experience in that gap. So you can obviously see where the places are opening up for people to put their hands up, it’s three and five,” he said.
Root batted at number three during England’s most recent Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean but has a far better record for his country when coming in at second-drop.
The former England skipper has an excellent average of 51.27 when batting at number four, which is almost 12 runs greater than his mark (39.67) when batting at three.
The new England captain has already revealed he will hand recalls to veteran duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad, with the likes of Ollie Robinson and Chris Woakes likely to be in the mix to feature alongside first-choice spinner Jack Leach.
“You look at the players who aren’t available through injury — (Mark) Wood, (Jofra) Archer, (Olly) Stone, (Sam) Curran — they’d all be seriously fighting for places,” Stokes said.
“Then you place them among Broady (Stuart Broad), Jimmy (Anderson), Woakesy (Chris Woakes)…it’s so exciting to think about the team we could put out there if we don’t have any injuries. Unfortunately, we do. We just have to pick the best XI we have to choose from and I’ll always make sure we do that.”