Stokes: Root to return to No 4 for England in Tests
Ben Stokes on Joe Root’s return to number four: “I feel that him at four and me at six gives us a bit of experience in that gap. So you can obviously see where the places are opening up for people to put their hands up, it’s three and five”
Last Updated: 08/05/22 8:54am
Joe Root will return to batting at number four in the England Test team, his successor as captain Ben Stokes has confirmed.
Root, who stood down last month after five years in the role, had moved up to No 3 for England’s most-recent tour of the West Indies that resulted in a 1-0 series defeat.
Root performed well in the role in the Caribbean, finishing as England’s leading scorer with 289 runs across his six innings, including two hundreds. But for his career he has had greater joy at four, averaging 51.27, compared to 39.67 at three.
Stokes has also confirmed his own move from No 5 to 6 in the order for the three-Test series against New Zealand which starts on June 2, and the new skipper has urged for “people to put their hands up” for selection now at three and five.
“I’ve already spoken with Joe; I’ve asked him to go back to four and I’m going to be at six,” Stokes said.
“Wherever Joe bats he gets runs, but his best position is at four. Joe will probably be averaging 90 now instead of 60 [Root’s average in 2021], so it will be good.
“I feel that him at four and me at six gives us a bit of experience in that gap. So you can obviously see where the places are opening up for people to put their hands up, it’s three and five.”
Stokes marked his return to action with a remarkable 64-ball hundred for Durham on Friday, bringing up his century with five consecutive sixes before going on to smash a new County Championship record of 17 in his innings of 161 off 88 balls.
But, in his new role, Stokes says he won’t be focussed solely on the performance of his own county side as he added: “I now feel I have to follow a lot more of the county games now to see who is scoring runs rather than just checking the Durham score.”
The 30-year-old allrounder did also confirm that he will reluctantly sit out some of England’s white-ball commitments this summer due to the demands of a “ridiculous” schedule that sees a three-match ODI series in the Netherlands squeezed in between the second and third New Zealand Tests next month.
“The schedule definitely is something that needs looking at,” Stokes said. “It is ridiculous the amount of cricket that is expected of people.
“The fact there is a Test match and one-day series overlapping sums it up. It really needs looking at from a workload point of view.
“I don’t want to miss England matches, I want to play as much as I can for England.
“In an ideal world you would have a schedule that allows you to play everything, but unfortunately it is not possible and my number-one priority is Test cricket at the moment, so I have to prioritise that over white ball.”