England captain Joe Root sees a shade of Virat Kohli in his deputy Ben Stokes and feels the flamboyant all-rounder will lead by example like the Indian skipper if he has to take charge during the three-Test series against the West Indies beginning July 8.
Root is expecting the arrival of his second child in July and he could miss a match or two to be with his wife Carrie and also to maintain the bio-security protocols to tackle COVID-19.
“You know Virat (Kohli) goes out there and performs and expects everyone to go and do the same within the same team and I imagine that’s how Ben will go about his business,” the premier English batsman said in a chat show on Sony Ten’s ‘Pit Stop’.
Stokes has already said he’s ready to take the challenge to be the “the Scottie Pippen to Joe Root’s Michael Jordan”, referring to the basketball legend’s Chicago Bulls team of the late 1990s.
“I think Ben is better… Ben would make a better ‘Michael Jordan’ than me. He (Stokes) has a great quality, leads from the front, just as Michael Jordan did you know,” Root quipped.
“He’s already a big leader in the team as the vice-captain…There’s a huge amount of respect for him. He has obviously accomplished so much within the game and within Test cricket that he’s more than well enough equipped to do a really good job.”
All eyes would also be on how the English and the West Indian cricketers cope with the saliva ban, implemented temporarily by the International Cricket Council to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“I don’t think it would change a huge amount in England. It depends, obviously, in terms of the conditions when it’s a little bit more overcast, there’s not been much cricket played in the squares and the outfield should be very lush,” he said.
“Damage to the Duke ball doesn’t really take effect till about 50 overs or 40 overs if that’s the case. So it should swing consistently anyway,” he opined.
“So I can’t see it playing as much of having as much of an impact, especially at the start of the summer. I think, as the summer goes on and if we get some good weather the squares become a little bit more abrasive, than the reverse swing might be a natural part anyway.”
West Indies’ rescheduled tour of England, to be aired on Sony Sports Network, is set to begin behind closed doors with the first Test at Southampton.
“It’s probably the longest break from cricket I’ve had since I was 12-13 years old…It will be slightly strange, but, you know, very pleased that we’ll be able to bring some international cricket around the world again and hopefully we will be able to enjoy watching some live sport again,” he said.
Bairstow eager to get spot back in England Test squad
Wicket-keeper batsman Jonny Bairstow says he is confident of regaining his place in England’s Test team for the upcoming series against the West Indies after putting in the hard yards to improve his glove-work.
The 30-year-old was dropped from the New Zealand tour late last year and featured in one Test in South Africa as a batsman but didn’t do his chances any good by scoring 1 and 9 to be left out of the rest of the series.
“Over a period of time, I’ve been really happy with my keeping. That was the part of my game which, at the start of my career, people questioned. But people have stopped speaking about it over the last couple of years,” he was quoted as saying by ‘ESPNcricinfo’.
“My stats are very good. So there’s no reason why that isn’t an area I want to be coming back into.”
Bairstow has been struggling with his batting and has just one century to show in his last 18 Tests. He has scored runs at an average of 19.15 in 14 Tests since mid-August 2018.
“I’m pleased with the way my batting has been going. I’ve been facing the dogstick and I’ve had a few sessions with the bowling machine. It’s been good to groove my technique,” he said.
“There have always been challenges that have been asked – whether keeping wicket or batting in certain positions – and I’d like to think I’ve risen to those challenges … I hope they will get me back in the side as long as I score enough runs.”