Ben Stokes believes his experiences on and off the field can act as ‘powerful’ tools in his new role as England’s Test captain.
Stokes was announced as captain at the end of April following Joe Root’s decision to step down from the role.
Root gave up the captaincy after a humbling Ashes defeat in Australia, ending his five-year tenure with a worrying nine-match winless streak.
All-rounder Stokes will now take up that post as the head of the team, a decision that only required brief consideration.
The 30-year-old told talkSPORT: “I don’t think that’s a job that is an easy thing that is ever easy to turn down for anybody.
“Obviously you’ve got to put some thought into it, not just a ‘yeah alright I’ll have a go’ because there’s a lot of things to consider, but there was no hesitation.
He added: “One thing that I’ve always wanted in teammates is selflessness and always making sure at the top of everybody’s mind is what can I do, what can we do, to win this game? And having that message at the top of everybody’s mind is a good place to start.”
Stokes was stripped of the vice-captaincy in 2018 having been arrested following a street brawl in Bristol. He was found not guilty of affray at the trial.
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The New-Zealand born Englishman also took a break from the sport in July 2021 ‘to prioritise his mental well-being’ and explained why such experiences will put him in good stead for his new role.
“What you don’t want to do is make mental health a stigma or anything like that,” he added. “I chose to take time out of the game because I needed to at that time.
“I now speak to people and I will continue to speak to people, but for me, having gone through quite a lot of experiences in my cricket career, on the field, off the field, I see that as a very powerful thing for me to have experienced.
“I have an understanding of what on the field things can sometimes do to people… I hope that if anybody else whilst I’m in charge feels like anything might be getting too tough for them or on top of them they can come to me because I’ve been there.
“So I don’t see it as a negative, if anything I see it as a positive – me being captain – after what I’ve gone through the last couple of years. It can hopefully help not just young players but all the players as well if they feel like they’ve gone through a tough time.
“Sometimes it can be so focused on what is needed out there that once that’s done, once the day’s finished, people might not have an understanding of what actually people can feel like once they’re done.
“You almost feel like when you’re out there everything else just leaves you for that moment but then when you’re off the field that’s when life comes back to normal.
“So I feel like if anything it’s just a massive positive doing the role that I’m now expected to do whilst also having a lot of experiences off the field throughout my career so I don’t see any negative in it whatsoever.”
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