Ben Stokes believes his ups and downs on and off the field will help him handle the pressures of the England Test captaincy.
Stokes, speaking for the first time since his appointment last week, says he has learned the lessons of his Bristol court case, and added that his break for mental health reasons last year has helped him spot the warning signs amid fears that the captaincy will overburden England’s champion allrounder.
Stokes has been assured by Rob Key, the managing director, that he will have a big say in the appointment of England’s new Test coach and confirmed he sees James Anderson and Stuart Broad as integral members of the team again.
He does not believe England need a vice-captain at the moment but will lean on Joe Root for advice.
“There’s a lot of things that I’ve gone through since I became a professional cricketer,” Stokes said. “And those experiences I feel are positive in this new role that I’ve got, because I’ve been through a lot of goods and I’ve been through a lot of bads and I feel like I can relate to both sides of what this sporting life can throw at you.”
“I hope that now, because I’m England captain, I’m not seen as a different person to the people who I’ve played with. I feel as if I’ve always been someone who anybody can come and speak to. I see everything that I’ve gone through as a positive and you can relate to people if that is good or bad.
“It is important that I work together with Rob on this and he is keen to make sure that we get the right people around me. You don’t want to be putting too much pressure on yourself outside of when you’re out in the field performing. There are lots of things to consider like getting the right coach, for example, and the right management, to take all the added pressures that come with it off my shoulders.”
Stokes takes over an England team that has won just one Test in 17 and were beaten 4-0 in Australia and 1-0 by the West Indies, a result that led to Joe Root’s resignation.
“A very good starting point for me is I want selfless cricketers who make decisions that are based on winning the game of cricket for England,” said Stokes. “Because at the end of the day, the most important thing for me is winning. I want to be a part of a team that has that real mentality and isn’t going to take a backward step.
“And the most important people to deliver that message to is the guys in the changing room. There’s always going to be that outside noise but the most important people who matter are the guys in the dressing room.”
Stokes will play for Durham this week against Worcestershire, his first outing of the summer, as he builds up fitness for the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s on June 2.