Root and Stoke

Jayawardena backs Stokes' claim as England Test captain

ICC Review

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Former Sri Lanka great Mahela Jayawardena believes star all-rounder Ben Stokes is the right choice to become England's new Test captain and has tipped outgoing skipper Joe Root to thrive as a batter without the added responsibility.

Stokes is being widely tipped to be formally introduced as England's new Test skipper in the near future, with upcoming home series against New Zealand and India in June likely to be his first port of call in charge.

If Stokes is confirmed as captain, it will be the first time an all-rounder has led England since Andrew Flintoff's brief reign some 15 years ago, but Jaywardena thinks he is the perfect man for the job.

"I think he (Stokes) will be brilliant captain," Jayawardena said on the most recent episode of The ICC Review.

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"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."

Jayawardena 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 to flourish with the bat almost immediately.

"Joe has been batting incredibly the last three or four years and he will continue to flourish, there is no doubt about that," Jaywardena said.

"Joe has been batting incredibly 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 change 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 that he had to make that call (stand down), but in the long run I think he will definitely benefit from that."

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.

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Jayawardena said both players must be given the chance to play at home this summer, but conditions should determine whether or not they are picked for ongoing tours away from home.

"Having them in for the England summer is a must," the Sri Lanka legend said.

"At home with the Dukes ball there are no better and more experienced bowlers than Jimmy and Stuart ... away from home is where the questions do arise.

"England have lots of guys familiar with Dukes conditions, but they go away from home and struggle against the Kookaburra (ball) so they do need to find the right personnel for the right conditions."


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