Ben Stokes backs Joe Root as England captain

Ben Stokes described the Test captaincy as “one of the most criticised jobs in England at times” as he expressed his sympathy for Joe Root.

While Root has the unequivocal backing of the England hierarchy, he is struggling to juggle the twin demands of leading the side and consistently churning out big scores, averaging only 27.4 in 10 Tests this year.

He came under further scrutiny following the innings-and-65-run defeat against New Zealand in the first Test at Mount Maunganui, where England slid to an eighth loss in 14 overseas Tests under the Yorkshireman.

Joe Root is averaging just 27.4 in 10 Tests this year (Mike Egerton/PA)
Joe Root is averaging just 27.4 in 10 Tests this year (Mike Egerton/PA)

However, vice-captain Stokes is adamant Root should not be the lightning rod for opprobrium, telling the BBC’s Test Match Special: “The pressures of being England Test captain are huge.

“It can be one of the most criticised jobs in England at times. Sometimes unfairly, I would say.

“There are 11 guys out on the field in a game that contribute to a win or loss. It doesn’t all fall on the captain.

“We put our hands up as players when we don’t perform as well and unfortunately Joe cops most of that. But as a playing group, we stick together and we hold our hands up together as well.”

England’s preparations for the second Test at Hamilton, which gets under way on Friday, took a setback with the news head coach Chris Silverwood will fly home after day two following a family bereavement.

Assistant coaches Graham Thorpe and Paul Collingwood will take charge of the team alongside Root for the remainder of the trip before England leave New Zealand next Wednesday.

Stokes backed Silverwood’s decision and the all-rounder revealed he had some input, adding: “Family always comes first, no matter where you are in the world or a situation a team finds itself in.

“(Silverwood) asked my opinion personally and I just said ‘from my point of view you need to get yourself back home because at the end of the day, family is the most important thing’.”